Optimism in the UK manufacturing sector is at its highest level in four decades, a recent survey by CBI, a London-headquartered business lobbying organisation, has revealed. More than 40% of the 405 manufacturers surveyed by CBI in April 2014, said that they perceive their situation in the first quarter of 2014, to have improved since the final quarter of 2013. Just 8% of respondents said that their situation had worsened, making it the most positive result since April 1973.

Manufacturers are also optimistic about the second quarter of the year, with 36% of respondents expecting their total number of new orders to increase, and just 10% expecting this number to contract, the best result since 1996. This optimism can be attributed to a rise in the number of orders received in the previous quarter: 38% of respondents reported a spike in new orders and just 17% of them recorded a decrease.

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Perception of external factors influencing UK exports is also improving. According to the survey, the number of the pollsters that see the overseas political and economic situation as influencing their export potential – 22% – fell for a fourth consecutive year.

“Confidence is rapidly rising among UK manufacturers, with a real sense of business optimism,” Katja Hall, CBI's chief policy director commented on publishing the results of the survey. "There are still bumps in the road ahead, with only a tepid recovery likely in the eurozone, the pound creeping higher and a rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine. However, expectations for growth in the coming three months are positive and manufacturers plan to significantly ramp up investment in the year ahead."