Steel suppliers are likely to be among those feeling positive following the publication of the latest Index of Production by the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS IoP report was welcomed by manufacturers’ organisation EEF, which incorporates the sector-specific group UK Steel.

Chief economist Lee Hopley said: “While manufacturing output was unchanged in November, a decent run of growth through the second half of last year left production levels at their highest level since July 2012, with some notable strengths through the year in basic metals, transport and chemicals.”

While production levels are, in some parts of the industry, still below their previous peak, Ms Hopley suggested that setting the right policies now could help to support growth as business opportunities return.

Steel suppliers can take some confidence from the data, and from Ms Hopley’s comments, all of which hint at 2014 being a stronger year perhaps than any since the onset of the recession.

With steel an important material for all kinds of construction, from homes to heavy infrastructure, growth in any sector is likely to feed through as positive impacts on the steel industry, and on demand for the metal across the UK.