Growth in the UK’s industrial sector has hit its fastest annual rate since January 2011, after a significantly stronger end to the year than economists had predicted.

Industrial production, which accounts for around 15 per cent of UK gross domestic product, expanded by 1.1 per cent in December. That was a big slowdown from bumper growth of 2.1 per cent in November, but much better than forecasts of only 0.2 per cent expansion.

The growth brought the annual production increase to 4.3 per cent, the fastest growth rate in just under six years.

Expansion was driven by a big leap in the manufacturing sub-index, which recorded a monthly expansion of 2.1 per cent. Output was 4 per cent higher than the same month in 2015, compared to forecasts of only 1.7 per cent.

However, Kate Davies, ONS senior statistician, was cautious, stressing that December’s growth was driven by the “often volatile” pharmaceuticals industry, and growth was “broadly flat” over the fourth quarter as a whole, following three months of contraction before November.

Sterling reversed its daily falls to hit to a day high – up 0.15 per cent against the dollar at $1.2513.

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