Manufacturing index soars to a 16-year high

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The Independent Online

Britain's manufacturing outlook leapt to its highest level in 16 years last month, boosted by rising exports and unprecedented levels of recruitment.

The closely-watched purchasing managers' index rose to 58 last month from 55.4 in October, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) said yesterday. The upbeat poll results will be welcomed by the Coalition Government, which has much riding on a "re-balancing" of the economy and the private sector filling gaps left by savage cuts to state spending.

Manufacturers reported that production was rising at its fastest pace for six months and new orders were growing at the fastest rate since April.

Export growth has also accelerated to a seven-month high and recruitment is shooting up at the fastest rate since the survey began in 1992.

Rob Dobson, a senior economist at Markit, which compiles the CIPS survey, said: "The stand-out number is the survey record increase in employment, raising hopes that job creation in manufacturing can play a wider role in broadening and sustaining the economic recovery."

Howard Archer, an analyst at IHS Global Insight, said: "The key question going forward, though, is how well can manufacturing activity hold up as stock rebuilding draws to a close, tighter fiscal policy weighs down on domestic demand and likely slower global growth threatens foreign demand for UK products."