Britain's manufacturers reported their strongest annual growth for nearly three years, official figures showed.
Manufacturers began the new year on the front foot with better than expected expansion of 0.4 per cent over the month, leaving the sector’s annual rate of growth at 3.3 per cent — the highest since February 2011.
However, the wettest January on record played havoc with oil and gas extraction in the North Sea, which meant that the nation’s wider industrial production sector managed just 0.1 per cent growth.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial data provider Markit, said: “With export markets picking up, domestic demand buoyed by a construction surge, rising business confidence and increasing consumer spending — as well as the Bank of England pledging to keep interest rates at record lows into 2015 — manufacturers are expecting a boom year.”
Despite today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics, manufacturing output is still 9 per cent below 2008’s pre-recession peak.