Growth in the UK’s manufacturing sector has been the strongest for 18 years, according to the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey.

Both the size of total order books and the pace of output growth over the past three months were the highest recorded since 1995, suggesting the recovery in UK manufacturing is accelerating. The survey of nearly 350 manufacturers found that total order books relative to normal levels were their strongest since March 1995, and output volumes over the three months to November rose at their fastest rate since January 1995, with all but one sector (electrical engineering) reporting growth.

CBI director of economics Stephen Gifford said: “This new evidence shows encouraging signs of a broadening and deepening recovery in the manufacturing sector. Manufacturers finally seem to be feeling the benefit of growing confidence and spending within the UK and globally. Both order books and the pace of output growth are the strongest they’ve been since 1995, and firms are expecting similar-paced growth over the coming three months as well.

"However, challenges remain. UK exporters need government support to break into high-growth export markets to reduce their vulnerability to any further Eurozone flare-ups."