UK manufacturing continues to grow strongly in January

Mini plant in Cowley, Oxford Image copyright PA
Image caption Markit said the performance marked "a strong start" to the new year.

Growth in UK manufacturing remained strong last month, an influential survey has suggested.

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector recorded a level of 56.7 in January.

Although this was down from December's 57.2, it still marks well above average growth in the sector. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Markit said the performance marked "a strong start" to the new year.

"Although the pace of output expansion has cooled slightly in recent months, growth is still tracking at one of the highest rates in the 22-year survey history," said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit.

New export orders rose to their highest level in almost three years which Markit credited to improved demand from North America, Europe, Asia, Brazil and the Middle East.

The continued expansion in the sector meant employment also increased, rising for a ninth consecutive month.

"The long awaited rebalancing of economic growth may also finally be within sight," added Mr Dobson.

Manufacturing accounts for around a tenth of Britain's economy, which expanded by 0.7% in the final three months of last year, official data showed last week.

Official manufacturing output data for December is due to be published this Friday.

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