By Jonathan Davies
Growth in the UK manufacturing sector hit a seven-month high in February, according to a closely watched survey.
The Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI survey rose to 54.1 in February, up from 53.1 in January. Any figure above 50 indicates growth in the sector. February's growth means the manufacturing sector has grown for two years.
February saw growth accelerate for the third consecutive month and is now the sector is now at its highest point since June 2014.
The growth was largely driven by output in the consumer goods industry. But there were worrying signs of exports, with performance falling for fourth time in five months.
But the overall growth was mirrored by further improvements in jobs in the sector. The survey found that employment increased for the 21st month in a row, and growth was at a three-month high.
Rob Dobson, Senior Economist at Markit, said: “The UK manufacturing sector is reviving in early 2015 after the slowdown seen late last year, as growth rates of both production and new orders continued to strengthen in February. Output is now rising at a quarterly pace close to 0.5% and job creation is running at a rate of five thousand new positions filled per month. This reinforces the picture of a broader growth revival in the UK so far in the opening quarter.
“Scratching beneath the surface and we see a lopsided upturn, with the prime driver being a strong upsurge in new orders and production at consumer goods producers while a near-stalling of demand for plant and machinery points to ongoing weak business investment. Separately, the appreciation of sterling is holding back the progress of UK exporters. It seems that, despite years of talk about a rebalancing of growth, we are still seeing only limited headway in moving away from consumer driven expansions and towards a greater contribution from exports."