U.K. Manufacturing Growth Reaches Decade High as Lockdown Eases

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U.K. manufacturing growth accelerated to its highest level in a decade last month as orders jumped in anticipation of looser lockdown restrictions.

IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers Index climbed to 58.9 in March, outstripping economist estimates to deliver its strongest reading since 2011. Factory output expanded at the quickest pace since November, the 10th consecutive month of gains.

The figures add weight to hopes from the Treasury and Bank of England that the economy will bounce back strongly once the pandemic eases. They indicated some upward pressure on inflation as the virus disrupted shipments of raw materials.

“The vaccine roll-out and clients’ preparations for the loosening of lockdown restrictions underpinned the expansion,” said Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit. “Many expect this process to be supportive during the year ahead. The longer these inflationary and supply-chain worries persist, the greater the potential to curb the strength of the upturn.”

Employment rose, supported the highest levels of business sentiment in seven years. Supply chain issues constrained growth, pushing up both input and output prices at by the most since early 2017.

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