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strong start for uk manufacturing in 2012

Prospects are looking up for UK industry, with the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) hitting an eight-month high in January.

The PMI, compiled by Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), rose to 52.1 per cent last month, marking a positive start to 2012. In December, the index read 49.7.

Output within the sector rose at the fastest pace recorded since March 2011, as input costs fell.

Manufacturing production also increased for the second consecutive month, which the PMI said was a result of new orders and the clearing of backlogs.

Across the industry, payroll numbers remained stable, but actually increased in small to medium-sized enterprises, with higher employment being linked with increased production.

David Noble, chief executive officer at the CIPS, welcomed the figures, but warned caution.

"The UK manufacturing sector has sprung to life in the first month of 2012 to defy any economic gloom, but it is too early to say whether this trend is sustainable," he explained.

Economists have taken a similar view, but generally agreed that the figures show manufacturing has got off to a strong start in 2012.

James Knightley, senior economist at ING, added: "The report also states that there has been an increase in the willingness of businesses to spend, thereby potentially offering hope for investment and hiring."