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Industry sees production and new orders close to 22-year high
THE UK's manufacturing industry is maintaining its resurgence, with firms continuing to increase production and create thousands of jobs, a new report has revealed.
The sector remained close to a 22-year high in December, with strengthening domestic markets and new export orders helping output rise for a ninth successive month.
A report from the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index PMI survey said the manufacturing industry recorded a reading of 57.3 in December, with any figure above 50 signalling growth.
Employment increased for an eighth consecutive month, with the rate of jobs growth the second highest in the last two-and-a-half-years.
The survey also revealed the sector had benefited from increased demand from companies in Brazil, China, Russia and the US, despite December's mark falling slightly behind November's 33-month high of 58.1.
Industry bosses hailed the figures, saying the sector should continue its growth in the early part of 2014.
Rob Dobson, Markit senior economist, said: “The strong upsurge continued at the end of 2013, with rates of growth in production and new orders still among the highest in the 22-year PMI survey history.
“On its current track, the sector should achieve output growth of more than one per cent in the final quarter, while filling up to 15,000 jobs.
“With the manufacturing sector still some nine per cent off its pre-crisis peak production, the question everyone wants answering is whether this upturn can develop into a self-sustaining recovery.
“The news is still good on this score, as growth is coming from a broad base that should keep the rebound on track during the early stages of 2014.”
Mr Dobson said companies, buoyed by domestic market increases and exports, were regaining confidence.
He added: “Output and new orders are rising across all manufacturing sub-sectors and also at small and medium-sized businesses and large-scale producers.
“The strong performance of intermediate goods manufacturers suggests that firms are refilling their warehouses, while robust growth at consumer and capital goods producers indicates household and investment spending are also still playing a key role.”
Andy Tuscher, North regional director at manufacturers’ organisation, EEF, said while the sector was showing positive signs, investment was still needed to continue its resurgence.
He said: “Manufacturers ended the year on a strong note, providing a springboard for growth going into 2014.
“Surer signs of a manufacturing recovery in Europe, together with steady growth both at home, in the US and emerging markets, should align to support solid expansion of UK manufacturing in the year ahead.
“However, while we can hope to see more of the ground lost in the recession, we must start to see new investments if the sector is to secure a long-term recovery.”
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