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North West Business Activity on the Rise

Business activity in the North West has increased at the quickest rate since August 2014 at the start of the fourth quarter, as the region continued to "bounce back" from the EU referendum vote, according to the latest Lloyds Bank PMI report.

The analysis shows a boost in new orders led to the rise in activity during October, with companies reporting the sharpest increase in new business in more than two-and-a-half-years. It added this is largely due to the weak pound, which has resulted in greater international demand.

The latest North West purchasing managers’ index registered 58.4 in October, up from 53.8 in September. The latest reading was also above the UK average.

Lloyds Bank also found private sector firms hired more staff for the first time in three months during October, with the rate of job creation outstripping the UK average.

However, the weakness of sterling continued to drive up costs, and businesses’ input prices rose at the sharpest rate in five-and-a-half-years.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for SME banking in the North West, said: "The start of the final quarter saw the North West private sector economy move up a gear. Activity growth picked up to a 26-month high, partly driven by an increase in international demand stemming from the weakness of the pound, and employment growth resumed for the first time in three months."

He added: "However, businesses’ costs increased at the quickest rate in five-and-a-half years, leading to a strong rise in average prices charged."