Britain’s manufacturing sector has been enjoying its strongest growth for more than six years according to official figures.
Output from UK factories in the three months to November increased by 3.9% compared to the year before, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
That was the strongest performance since March 2011 and comes as the sector is buoyed by the weakness of the pound since the Brexit vote – which makes British exports cheaper for foreign buyers – as well as the strengthening of the world economy.
On a monthly basis, the sector grew by a better than expected 0.4% in November.
ONS senior statistician Ole Black said: “There was strong and widespread growth across manufacturing with notable increases from renewable energy projects, boats, planes and cars for export.”
The latest data suggests manufacturing will make a positive contribution to GDP growth for the final quarter of 2017 – though it has a much smaller impact than the dominant services sector, which represents four-fifths of UK output.
Britain’s economy had a tough time in the first nine months of the year as growth slowed amid a squeeze on consumers.
The weakness of the pound has had an unfavourable impact on that side of the economy because it means imports becoming more expensive, driving up prices and weakening demand.
GDP grew by 0.4% in the third quarter but recent survey data has indicated the performance could improve for the last three months of the year.
However, the latest figures suggested the construction sector was likely to drag on the economy – it grew by 0.4% in November but that followed two months of contraction.
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Meanwhile Britain’s goods trade deficit with the rest of the world widened to a higher than expected £12.2bn for the month though on a three-month basis it narrowed, the ONS said.
Investec economist George Brown said: “Overall, the release painted a picture of an economy that is seeing a moderate strengthening, providing some tentative hope that the weakness seen in the first half of the year is now largely behind us.”