April 14, 2014 12:02 am

Wales tops regional growth table as confidence rises

Wales achieved the fastest growth in business activity last month, while London regained its place as the best-performing English region, according to the latest Lloyds Bank regional purchasing managers’ index.

All 12 UK regions continued to record growth, though at the slowest pace for nine months. The weakest growth was in Yorkshire and Humber, followed by northwest England and Scotland.

The headline index measuring overall business activity was 57.6, down from 58.2 in February, but still well above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction. The survey was run by the data company Markit.

The Wales figure was its best since the survey began in January 2001. After London, the English region with the strongest performance was the southwest. The relative monthly position of each region can be volatile.

Lloyds said all nine English regions and Wales saw jobs created in March, because output was rising, as was confidence about the economic outlook. Companies in some areas struggled to find enough capacity to meet demand, with London recording the biggest increase in levels of incomplete work.

There was a further fall in input cost inflation across most of the English regions and Wales.

Tim Hinton, Lloyds head of small and medium-sized enterprises, said: “Businesses are continuing to feel the benefits of improving conditions. A strong rise in new orders and lower input costs appears to be supporting job creation and private sector investment.”

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