The EEF/BDO Q1 Manufacturing Outlook survey reveals a more consistent picture than in recent quarters with the strong conditions spreading to all regions and sectors, and healthy balances for both UK and overseas sales.
The positive outlook is being translated into record high recruitment and investment intentions - the highest levels recorded in the survey.
In its report EEF says that translating firms’ intentions to invest and hire more staff into action will be the ultimate test for long term economic recovery.
EEF chief economist, Ms Lee Hopley said: “This is the most positive set of indicators we have seen for some time, demonstrating that we’ve not just turned the corner, we’re actively heading down the right road. Manufacturers are clearly feeling more confident as their order books fill up and exports are strong. “
According to the survey output and order balances edged higher compared to the final quarter of last year. Looking at sector performance the strongest positive balances were reported by companies in the electronics, motor vehicles and electrical equipment sectors. This positive trend is forecast to continue in the next quarter.
Given the appreciation of sterling this is especially encouraging and is down in some part to a gradual recovery in the Eurozone given slightly softer conditions elsewhere.
EEF’s forecast for manufacturing growth in 2014 remains unchanged at 2.7%. However, EEF has increased its forecast for GDP growth to 2.6%.