Business activity continues to grow

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Business activity continued to grow in March, for the 17th month running, according to Lloyds Bank Yorkshire and Humber Purchasing Managers’ Index.

Companies said stronger demand and better economic conditions led to higher output. New orders continued to grow, as did staffing levels, while input and output prices rose in March, with both rates of inflation above the UK average.

But the headline Business Activity Index – a seasonally adjusted index that measures the combined output of the region’s manufacturing and service sectors – registered 55.8, down from the four-month high in February of 58.1.

Volumes of new orders expanded sharply again, which firms attributed to higher demand and growth from existing customers. Although rising new business has now been recorded in 20 consecutive months, the latest expansion was the slowest since June 2013.

Martyn Kendrick, of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Business activity remained in expansion in March, but output grew more weakly than the previous month. Payroll numbers remained steady, highlighting confidence in outlook.”