Manufacturing growth hits February 2011 high

Peter Spence
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Yet more strong data from the UK's manufacturing sector.

Both industrial and manufacturing production smashed expectations this February, with manufacturing production rising 3.8 per cent in the year to date.

According to the Office for National Statistics, February saw the third consecutive monthly rise for the sector. The annual increase is the fastest pace of growth in production since February 2011.

Last month's manufacturing growth has been revised down a touch however, from 3.3 per cent to 3.2 per cent. Much of this month's growth in manufacturing, of one per cent, was driven by a strong expansion in pharmaceuticals.

Jeremy Cook, chief economist at World First, says that purchasing managers' index surveys from the sector "have shown that employer intentions have risen well in the first quarter, with continual improvements in output and employment leading to continual market confidence."

Headline industrial production numbers are also encouraging, with 2.7 per cent growth seen in the year to February. Forecasts had suggested we'd see a 2.2 per cent jump this month. Alex Edwards, head of the corporate desk at UKForex, says that "these are very impressive numbers and will serve to boost expectations for an early rate hike by the Bank of England."

A hike may now come as early as January or February 2015, says Edwards, and certainly before the May 2015 general election.