Strong March as businesses eye Covid recovery

IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index shows that business activity in the UK grew at its fastest pace for seven months in March. Manufacturing and services output grew rapidly to take the PMI up from 49.6 in February to 56.6 this month. Firms reported confidence as Covid restrictions begin to lift, with new orders coming in at the highest level since last summer. Business expectations for future growth are at their highest since records began in 2012. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said the strong sentiment “hints at only a modest contraction of GDP during the first quarter, adding to evidence that the economy has shown far greater resilience in the third lockdown compared to the first. The encouraging readings on future expectations, job creation and new order inflows meanwhile all point to robust economic growth in the second quarter, especially if virus restrictions are lifted further.”

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