UK manufacturing activity surged in April according to the official data.

The underlying position, however, is less positive, as UK output has only grown modestly over the past 12 months. Within this, aerospace and motor vehicles have fared particularly well, while engineering, pharmaceuticals and metals have experienced more difficulties.

As manufacturing has also struggled in many other economies, the explanations for the weakness are probably primarily global, such as sluggish world trade, rather than UK specific.

Sterling’s strength against the euro, however, has been a hurdle for at least parts of UK manufacturing. The modest upward trend in orders suggests that the buoyant April figures do not herald a sustained near-term

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