April's improved new orders figures from the Office of National Statistics - up 17% on March - brought some cheer, with encouraging signs of activity from housebuilding and other sectors. However, given that the first quarter numbers were the worst since records began in 1983, recovery is a way off - volumes are 40% down on this time last year.

The three monthly data shows a 9% fall. Interestingly, some of the biggest upward changes in the monthly data can be seen in the industrial and commercial sectors, which are not likely to see sustained growth in 2009.

Housebuilding is where the momentum of recovery will be established, but the monthly and quarterly data is inconclusive. Orders have returned to last summer's levels - hardly a recovery - but as output remains low, an inventory-led bounce in demand for housing looks possible.