Private sector companies in the North West continued to report growth of business activity in January, extending the current sequence of expansion to 25 months, a new bank survey has said.
It said the latest rise was underpinned by faster growth of new business and employment during the month, while lower fuel prices led to the steepest fall in input costs in five-and-a-half years.
Having dipped to a 20-month low of 54.1 in December, the seasonally adjusted Lloyds Bank North West Business Activity Index accelerated to a four-month high of 55.9 in January. The latest expansion in private sector output it said was robust overall, albeit slightly weaker than the UK-wide trend.
And it added that new business in the North West private sector rose at a faster pace in January, amid reports of new contract wins.
But it said the pace of expansion remained below the UK economy average for the 11th straight month.
Private sector companies in the North West continued to hire additional staff in January, marking a 21-month period of workforce growth. The rate of job creation accelerated for the third month running, and was in line with the UK economy average.
Martyn Kendrick, area director for SME banking in the North West, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Growth of business activity in the North West’s private sector accelerated in January, having eased to a 20-month low in December.
“New business and employment also rose at faster rates during the month.
“Business conditions appear to have strengthened following slowdowns in the final quarter of 2014, suggesting brighter prospects for growth over the next few months.
“The outlook for inflation remains subdued.”