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For once, a survey of UK manufacturing will be a pretty good piece of news for the government, as companies are more upbeat about the future than at any time since the Brexit vote last June.
The Confederation of British Industry found that businesses expect sales volumes to rise at the fastest rate since January 2016, and that wages are set to pick up in real terms.
Most of the extra optimism will come from companies that report output or orders, rather than companies that reveal they have put in more workers.
The CBI said the trend is partly down to the UK economy outstripping euro zone growth in the final quarter of last year – and rising growth in the eurozone since Brexit.
Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, which compiled the data, said:
On a business-as-usual basis, British industry has shrugged off Brexit, notching its best quarterly performance in four years, according to the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey. Business sentiment reached the highest reading for two years in January, and the January monthly balance jumped to +17 from +1 in December, the highest since January 2016.
It was also the fastest rise in order books since February 2014.
The survey includes a weighting for companies that make up around a third of all UK manufacturing output.
The full survey of around 550 companies, in the CBI’s 40th Monthly Industrial Trends Survey, is available here.