Britain’s manufacturers have continued their strong start to the year with rates of expansion in output and new orders remaining above their respective long-run trends.
This is the conclusion of the latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Manager’s Index for UK manufacturing, which posted 56.7 in January. Any figure above 50 indicates growth.
Despite being slightly down on December (57.2) and at its lowest level in three months, it is still well above the series average of 51.3.
Companies have scaled up output in response to stronger inflows of new orders and Markit says there have been reports of improved demand from the domestic market, and rising levels of new business from overseas.
Expansion in new export orders was broad-based, with UK manufacturers mentioning improved demand from North America, mainland Europe, Asia, Brazil, Scandinavia and the Middle-East. The ongoing improvement in global market conditions drove the rate of increase in new export business to a near three-year record.
The ongoing rebound in the sector led to further job creation at the start of the year. January saw employment increase for the ninth successive month, with the rate of jobs growth remaining close to November’s two-and-a-half year high.
In a statement Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit said: ‘The domestic market remains the main pillar of the rebound, pushing the rate of expansion in total new orders back towards last November’s 19-year record. The long awaited rebalancing of economic growth may also finally be within sight.’
Stephen Cooper, KPMG’s head of UK Industrial Manufacturing said: ‘In January, the UK manufacturing sector showed the highest growth figures compared to the other sectors. The results also support the UK GDP figures for the sector which saw an above expectations increase for 2013 of 1.9 per cent – the highest since 2007.
‘On the global front, while the USA has shown solid underlying growth over the past year, the past month there saw a slowdown in output which has been linked in some part to the weather which had a negative impact on supplier deliveries.
‘China is showing deteriorating manufacturing conditions which has been linked to their fragile economic conditions. Things are looking bright here at home however; the UK seems to be ahead of the rest of the world trend and we predict this will continue.’
Carl Williamson, manufacturing sector lead at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, Mid-Markets, added: ‘Buoyed by positive global macroeconomic indicators and the relatively settled trading environment that has emerged, manufacturers have renewed confidence to invest in capacity, plant, product development and the exploration of new markets.
‘January’s positive domestic demand and export figures shows the momentum gained in the sector during 2013 is set to continue this year.’