“These figures provide further confirmation that the manufacturing recovery is gathering momentum, and support the positive message given earlier this week in our quarterly survey. The growth in manufacturing is in line with our assessment that GDP continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2010, but it is likely that the pace of growth slowed because of the mediocre performance of the service sector.
“We are now seeing evidence that the economy is being rebalanced, but it still faces many risks in the coming months. In particular, developments in the eurozone may cause difficulties for our exporters and the initial impact of the austerity plan will weaken domestic demand. Businesses, as well as individuals, will face pressures.
“Against this uncertain background, it is important to nourish and reinforce the manufacturing recovery by helping companies retain valuable skills, and ensuring that exporters are not at a disadvantage in key areas such as trade finance.”