UK manufacturers are creating their highest number jobs for three years as the sector continues to grow, new figures have revealed.

A report says the industry has enjoyed one of its best quarters for the past two decades.

The CIPS/Markit purchasing managers' index survey for June revealed a better-than-expected reading of 57.5, up from 57 a month earlier.

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That figure was above the 50 threshold separating growth from contraction.

It is also the second-highest reading in 40 months, bettered only by November's 57.8.

Experts says it reflects one of the sector's best spells of output and new order growth in the survey's 22-year history.

The report added the domestic market remains the prime source of new contract wins, though export orders have strengthened and employment has increased for the fourteenth consecutive month.

Rob Dobson, Markit senior economist, said: "The UK manufacturing sector continued to flourish in June, rounding off one of the best quarters for the sector over the past two decades.

"With levels of production surging higher, and order books swollen by a further upswing in demand from both domestic and overseas clients, job creation accelerated to its highest for over three years.

“Sustaining the recovery will remain the key and, on this front, the news also remained upbeat.

"As a broader expansion is also a more sustainable expansion, the ongoing surging growth of output and new orders across capital, consumer and intermediate goods producers alike is exactly what is required.

"Solid job creation bodes well, not just for manufacturing, but for sustaining the broader economic upturn."

David Noble, group chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, added the economy's growth was giving firms confidence to head into new markets.

He said: "The strong domestic market supported production and was the prime source of new business and sales.

"Indeed, the brightening economic conditions and new product offerings meant there was a healthy appetite to push into new markets."