Many US manufacturers remain cautious about the European market, having undertaken cost-cutting measures in the face of tough economic headwinds and weak sales, though there are glimmers of hope.
General Electric, the US conglomerate, blamed an unexpectedly severe downturn in Europe for disappointing results from its industrial businesses in the first quarter. Their European revenues fell 17 per cent.
Jeff Immelt, GE’s chief executive, said last week that he thought the second quarter would be better than the first in Europe, but the picture was mixed. The Nordic regions continued to be strong, he said, but Western Europe was “quite tough”.
He added: “We’re not counting on anything great out of Europe this year or next, and we’re … planning accordingly.”