MANUFACTURING order books remain robust, with output growth accelerating this month, a report has said.

The CBI Industrial Trends Survey says total order books improved slightly compared to January, though they are still below levels recorded in November and December.

It said the automotive sector was the largest contributor to the improvement in export orders, recording its strongest performance since October 2011.

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The report added output grew at one of the strongest rates since 1975, with expectations for output growth at their strongest since September.

Anna Leach, CBI head of economic analysis, said: “The manufacturing sector shows continued signs of improvement with demand high and steady and output growing strongly.

“Growth is increasingly broad-based and firms’ growth expectations are the highest for several months.

”As the UK and global economies continue to strengthen, we expect conditions to continue to improve for UK manufacturers and to increasingly feed through to business investment.”