Global manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest pace since May 2004 in February and prices rose at their sharpest rate in two-and-a-half years, a survey showed.

The Global Manufacturing PMI, compiled by JP Morgan with research and supply organisations, rose in February to 57.8 from 57.1 in January—its 20th month above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

“The headline PMI edged closer to its all-time record high in February, as stronger growth of output and new orders led to the steepest job creation in the series’ history,” JP Morgan’s David Hensley said.

The input price index rose to 76.7 last month from 73.3 in January, reflecting increased commodity, energy and oil prices.

Manufacturing employment rose at its fastest pace since the global series were first compiled in January 1998, with jobs growth in almost all of the nations covered. Earlier data showed the euro zone’s manufacturing sector expanded at its fastest pace in nearly 10 years but input price growth had soared to record levels while the British PMI held up at its highest reading since the survey began in 1992.

Figures from the United States showed manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace since May 2004 but China’s PMI dropped to a 6-month low.

The global indicator, produced by JP Morgan with research and supply management organisations, combines survey data from around 20 countries including the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia. (Reuters)