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Manufacturing sector looking positive into summer

Productivity in the UK manufacturing sector is showing signs of improvement following a muted first quarter, figures show.The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed today that output in UK manufacturing industries rose by 0.3 per cent between March and April. All industries showed growth, with the transport equipment sector leading the way on 0.9 per cent growth.These figures mean overall output in the three months ending to April dropped 0.2 per cent on the three preceding months. But with February's weak figures set to slip off the radar, analysts say next month's quarterly figures will be positive.A strong economic situation in Europe, on which Britain relies heavily for its exports, has helped overcome a strong pound and recent interest rate rises, analysts say.Howard Archer of research firm Global Insight said the latest figures were unlikely to reduce the likelihood of a further rate hike by the Bank of England before the end of the summer."The Bank… will be watching closely to see if manufacturers try to take advantage of this healthy activity by trying to push through more price hikes. If they do, it will increase the pressure for higher interest rates," he said.Mr Archer added the hike would take place "by August at the latest".

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