Firms in London lead fast pace of British growth

IGURES out this morning point to strong growth in every part of the England and Wales, with firms in the capital expanding at their fastest pace in nearly four years.

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Lloyds’ regional purchasing managers’ index (PMI) figures show that companies in all of the country’s regions grew in September, at similarly strong levels to those seen in July and August.

Even areas that have struggled most since the financial crisis registered a robust business climate at the end of the third quarter.

The capital’s firms reported the best conditions seen in 43 months, with a score of 62.9, soaring above the neutral figure of 50.

Similarly, Northern Ireland recorded the strongest PMI figure for over six years, welcome news for a region that was hit hard by the effects of the UK’s recession. The east midlands’ score rose to 61, the highest in the history of the index.

While employment indicators are still lagging behind general business growth, Lloyds suggest that firms are beginning to hire staff in response to growing backlogs of work, especially in the west midlands and north west of England.

“These figures are a sign of a real building of momentum that we expect to continue into the final quarter of 2013,” said David Oldfield of Lloyds Bank.

“Companies throughout England and Wales have grown in confidence during the summer, and the latest survey shows that this newfound optimism is translating into results.”

The indicators come less than a fortnight from the first official estimates of the UK’s economic growth in the third quarter, which the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (Niesr) will be 0.8 per cent, slightly higher than the second quarter’s 0.7 per cent.