“These figures are better-than-expected, although the February increase is partly due to a reversal of the large fall in January. The figures reinforce the prospect that GDP recorded positive growth in the first quarter of 2010.
“A manufacturing upturn remains critical to secure the much-needed rebalancing of the British economy towards exports and investments. The competitive position of sterling should provide the sector with some of the necessary advantages to stage a sustainable recovery, but the exchange rate is not enough on its own.
“The manufacturing sector must be better supported and access to finance improved, particularly for exporting companies. Steps must be taken to help businesses create jobs and wealth, and the planned National Insurance rise must be scrapped. Whatever the election result, we expect a new Government to address these issues urgently.”