SME investment reaches three-year high

Business investment hit its highest level since the start of 2009 in the first quarter of 2012, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed.

First estimates have shown investment to have risen by approximately 3.6%, equivalent to £1.1bn, in January to March, thus taking total investment to £30.8bn.

Private non-manufacturing companies contributed the majority of this rise, with a further £800 million being invested in Q1 of 2012, as a total of £26.1bn has been invested so far this year.

Companies in the other production category spent £7bn in Q1 (up 17.8% on Q4 2011), whilst electricity, gas and water producers saw £3.3bn more being invested (up 21.1% on Q4 2011).

Investment in the manufacturing sector also increased by £200 million, taking overall investment for the quarter to £3.7bn, which therefore provided some good news for the economy amidst a wealth of depressingly negative economic data.

Last week, manufacturers were said to have reported weak order books and falling orders by a regular CBI survey.