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Business activity in England at its peak

Staff writer |
Business activity picked up in April for the majority of English regions, reaching its highest level since the end of August 2012, according to the Lloyds TSB Regional Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI).

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At 52.2 in April, up from 51.6 in March, the headline index measuring overall business output was above the 50 "no-change" mark for the sixth consecutive month.

The improvement in business activity reflected growth in seven of the nine English regions, led by Yorkshire & Humber (55.7) and the East Midlands (53.6). London slipped from first to third place in the regional performance table, although the latest reading (53.4) was still indicative of solid business activity growth in the Capital in April.

The West Midlands (49.8) and the North East (49.5) reported a reduction in business activity mainly due to the weaker performance of the manufacturing sector and domestic spending in those regions, but in both cases the rate of contraction was only marginal.

The solid activity growth in April was supported by an improvement in new order levels across all nine English regions, for the first time since September 2012. The increase in new orders was likely to have been driven by a combination of solid gains in the service sector economy and stronger export orders for manufacturers.

"Last month's rebound in regional business activity gives us an early indication that growth and confidence have continued into the second quarter of 2013. The most encouraging development was the rise in new business orders across all nine English regions. Business activity was at its highest level since the end of August 2012," said David Oldfield, managing director of SME & Mid Markets Banking, Lloyds Banking Group.

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