Manufacturing continued its gains at the end of last year, with new export business increasing for the ninth consecutive month on the back of a strong pick up in employment within the sector.
Output also rose for the ninth month in a row in December, with a reading of 57.3 Purchasing Managers' Index, although the rate of expansion dipped slightly from November's 33 month high of 58.1. A reading of over 50 denotes growth.
'Sub-sector balances showed that the manufacturing revival is broadbased,with output of consumer, investment and intermediate goods growing at a similarly strong pace,' Samuel Tombs, UK Economist at Capital Economics noted.
'Looking ahead, there are good reasons to expect the manufacturing sector to continue to recover in 2014,' he added, predicting that manufacturing output could grow by 3% this year.