Slower growth in regional activity

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The Independent Online

Business activity across five English regions grew at its slowest pace since the beginning of the year in April, with the Yorkshire and Humber area suffering a "particularly steep slowdown", according to a new survey.

The Lloyds TSB regional purchasing managers' index for April, published today, shows that business activity in the private sector expanded across all nine English regions last month, with the South-east seeing the fastest rise.

But activity in Yorkshire and Humber grew at its slowest pace since January last year. London saw the second slowest output growth of the nine regions, with a much weaker pace of expansion compared to March.

Input cost inflation remained "sharp", although the pace of price rises compared to March slowed everywhere except in the North-east of England and the West Midlands. With commodity prices still near record-highs, input cost pressures were "especially pronounced" in the manufacturing sector.

"The second quarter started with a whimper rather than a bang," said John Maltby, the managing director of Lloyds TSB commercial.

Employment was also weak, with overall staffing levels showing only modest growth. The East Midlands stood out, however, with a sharper rate of job creation than in March, according to the survey.