England & Wales see strong increase in business activity
Business activity across England and Wales continued to increase strongly in September, according to the latest Commercial Banking Regional Purchasing Managers’ Index from Lloyds.
While the headline index fell slightly from 61.0 in August to 60.7 in September, it was above the 50.0 “no-change” level for the 11th consecutive month.
In Wales, the index rose to 59.2 (up from 57.7 in August) marking the strongest output growth rate for four years.
London recorded the strongest output growth in England (62.9), followed by the North West (62.3) and the East Midlands (61.0).
While the North East remained the weakest performing area in terms of business activity expansion (56.2), the region has still recorded growth for the past five months.
Increased volumes of new business were also recorded across all of England and Wales – the strongest rate of growth was seen in London (64.0) with the latest upturn reflecting a marked improvement in levels of new work within the Capital’s service sector.
Furthermore, higher levels of employment were reported by private sector companies in September, with a number of respondents noting that rising backlogs of work and greater confidence in the economic outlook had encouraged staff hiring among firms.
The West Midlands saw the strongest rise in employment (55.6) followed by the North West (55.3).
However, the survey also highlighted increased costs for private sector firms across all of England and Wales, as rising energy bills and staff salaries drove up input prices.
As a result, prices charged by manufacturers and service providers across England and Wales continued to rise in September, with inflation the strongest in the East Midlands (54.6) and weakest in London (50.4).