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East Anglia: Lloyds Activity Index approaches record level

PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 May 2014 | UPDATED: 09:51 12 May 2014

Steve Elsom of Lloyds Bank.

Steve Elsom of Lloyds Bank.

Employment in the East of England grew at its fastest ever rate last month, according to a new survey, while the overall level of economic activity was also close to a new record.

The headline Lloyds Bank East of England Business Activity Index, a seasonally adjusted index that measures the combined output of the region’s manufacturing and service sectors, rose from March’s 58.2 to a near-record high of 60.0 in April, signalling robust output growth in the region.

It is the joint second highest figure since the study began in 1997, with a marked increase in new orders, and the expansion was broad-based, with growth reported in both the manufacturing and service sectors.

April also saw a further sharp rise in order intakes, with the pace of expansion picking up since March. Around 40% of the survey panel signalled increased new business versus 14% that indicated a decline. Companies attributed higher new orders to new client wins and increased demand related to greater housing market activity.

With output and new orders rising sharply, East of England companies continued to take on additional staff, with the latest rate of job creation the highest in the survey history and above the overall UK average. Around 22% of the survey panel signalled increased employment levels, while only 6% reported a decline.

Higher staffing levels contributed to a fall in work outstanding in April. Backlogs of work were depleted for the first time in 10 months, although marginally overall. Input prices increased further during April amid reports of higher raw material prices and rising staff costs. The rate of inflation picked up slightly since March, but remained below the long-run trend.

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