Growth in Britain's manufacturing sector jumped to a new three-year high in April after a 4.4% surge in output on the same period in 2013.

The performance was the strongest year-on-year showing since February 2011, adding to hopes that overall GDP accelerated in the second quarter. 

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed an improvement in output of 0.4% compared with a month earlier. 

It was the fifth period of month-on-month growth in a row - the longest run of continuous expansion since June 2010. Main contributors included transport equipment as well as computer, electronic and optical products. 

Today's figures provide further evidence that the strength of the pound has not had as detrimental an effect on exporters as previously thought.

However, manufacturing remained 7.6% below its pre-downturn peak at the end of the first quarter of 2014.

Overall industrial production - which also includes sub-sectors such as mining and quarrying, electricity and gas output, and water supply - increased by 0.4% month-on-month in April as well. It grew by 3% year-on-year.

GDP grew by 0.8% in the first quarter, its fifth successive period of growth, as the economy recovers from the recession. 

It was still 0.6% off its 2008 high at the end of March but is expected to surpass this during the current three-month period.