The latest Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI ended in December at 57.3, which although very slightly down on November's 58.1 is still well into the positive territory above the neutral figure of 50.
Further the average figure for the final quarter was 57.2, which is the highest since quarter 1 2011.
December saw the ninth successive monthly rise in manufacturing as well as the eighth successive monthly increase in manufacturing employment. "The rate of jobs growth was the second-strongest in the past two-and-a-half years." Said Markit/CIPS.
Rob Dobson, Senior Economist at survey compilers Markit said:
"UK manufacturing's strong upsurge continued at the end of 2013, with rates of growth in production and new orders still among the highest in the 22- year PMI survey history. On its current track, the sector should achieve output growth of over 1% in the final quarter while filling around 10-15 thousand jobs, continuing its positive contributions to both the broader economic and labour market recoveries."
David Noble, Chief Executive Officer at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply said:
"UK manufacturing ended 2013 on a high and with all signs of powering ahead into 2014. The rate of production and new order growth remained well above the long-run survey average, rounding off the best overall quarterly performance for the PMI since Q1 2011. The sector's broad based expansion was underpinned by strong domestic demand and improved export orders, all of which are signs of an underlying trend of continuing growth going into the New Year."
Commenting Mike Rigby, Head of Manufacturing at Barclays, said:
"The sector has made good strides forward since the start of 2013 and the positive end to the year points to a strong 2014 for manufacturers. The main ingredients are in place, including stable FX rates, stable commodity prices, a recovering UK economy and a willingness from manufacturers to invest in R&D. If the sector continues to keep confidence and momentum up there's no reason why it can't outperform the UK economy in 2014."
Carl Astorri, senior economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, said:
"The manufacturing sector has ended 2013 in a position of relative strength and looks set to push on in early-2014. The only concern is the slowdown in export growth – the holy grail of a more balanced recovery remains elusive for the time being.
"Thus far the strength of the PMI data – not just for manufacturing but also for construction and services – has not been fully reflected in the official output series. The balances reported over the first half of 2013 would usually be consistent with quarterly manufacturing output growth in the region of 2%, but the official series has been running at just over half of that. Nevertheless, the sizeable national accounts revisions published just before Christmas raise hopes that the official data might move closer to the PMIs over time.
"We think it likely that manufacturing output grew by around 1.2% in Q4 2013. This would mean a third successive quarter of GDP growth of around 0.8% – very encouraging in the context of this recovery although there is still a long way to go before we regain previous peaks."