UK manufacturing
Britain\'s manufacturing sector is seeing a \'march of the makers\' as output steadily picks up (Reuters)

UK manufacturing output during July soared to its highest level since February 2011, building on months of gathering momentum in the country's healing economy.

Rising production, strengthening of new orders growth, increasing export orders, and cost inflation rising below the average rate all pushed the Markit/CIPS manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) to 54.6 in July, up from June's 52.9.

It follows accelerating GDP growth in the UK economy during the second quarter, which saw 0.6% expansion in the three months to June, after a 0.3% reading in the opening quarter of the year.

"The much vaunted march of the makers has finally materialised with the UK manufacturing sector's output growth hitting a 28-month high in July," said David Noble, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), which compiles the monthly PMI report alongside researcher Markit.

"Exports have been critical to this success, but it is the broad based nature of the sector's performance which endorses the view we are on track for solid and accelerated growth in the coming months. The ability of British manufacturers to market themselves abroad was always seen as crucial to long-term success and so it has proved.

"New export business has grown at its quickest rate in two years in a sign that macro-economic conditions are improving. Domestic performance has also been strong.

"The consumer goods industry has led the recovery, however it is perhaps even more encouraging to see increasing output and orders in both the intermediate and investment goods industries as well. As a result, confidence is high, jobs growth climbed to a two-year peak and the relatively subdued nature of inflationary pressures rounds off a very good month for manufacturers."

Analysts welcomed the UK manufacturing data which was above expectations of a slight uptick in output.

"The manufacturing sector is starting to realise a slow and steady recovery against a consistently benign backdrop. It's encouraging to see an uptick in new export business as manufacturers break away from the economic growth rate of the UK," said Mike Rigby, head of manufacturing at Barclays.

"Hopefully with continued certainty of a robust home market, this will further improve confidence to explore those new market opportunities further afield."