Industry extended its steady recovery for a twelfth month in July recruiting new staff for a second month and with more success in pushing up the prices of its products than at any time since December, 2004.

Some manufacturers told the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply their increases were a response to robust demand, as well as an effort to offset to oil, energy and raw materials - a comment the Bank of England could interpret as potentially inflationary.

The pace of growth in manufacturing activity as monitored by the CIPS/ Royal Bank of Scotland headline purchasing managers' index eased back to 53.8 last month from a downwardly-revised 55.0 in June on a scale where anything above 50 indicates growth.

Manufacturing output expanded for the 13th month running in July, although the output index slipped to 55.1 from 58.5 in June. New orders also grew briskly, but at a rather slower rate, with the index dipping to 55.6 from June's 57.3.

"The manufacturing sector continued to charge ahead this month, with purchasing managers in the sector reporting strong expansion in production as well as growth in exports and healthy new business wins," commented Roy Ayliffe, the CIPS' director of professional practice.

"Manufacturers struggled to keep costs down, however, as inflationary pressures rose sharply in June amid reports of soaring input and factory gate prices."

The growth in exports was widely spread with companies reporting stronger demand from the US, Asia and the eurozone.

Purchasing managers noted a "marked deterioration" in the performance of suppliers due to shortages of some raw materials.