The Confederation of British Industry's latest monthly industrial trends survey, published yesterday, also showed UK manufacturers' export order books in their best shape for 22 months, with the improvement driven by the chemicals, and motor vehicles and transport equipment sub-sectors.
Stephen Gifford, CBI director of economics, said: "The manufacturing sector is showing further signs of momentum, with nearly all sectors reporting growth for a second month. Total order books and output growth have maintained the strong performance from last month, while export orders have also shown an encouraging upturn in fortunes."
He added: "While risks remain in the eurozone and beyond, this survey provides further evidence that the recovery is becoming more embedded."
The survey of nearly 400 manufacturers showed 50% of UK manufacturers had enjoyed a rise in output volumes over the past three months, with 21% reporting a fall, and 29% experiencing an unchanged position. The net 29% reporting a rise in output volumes matched the reading in last month's survey, which was the strongest for 18 years.
Meanwhile, 35% of manufacturers reported total order books were above normal, with only 23% declaring a weaker-than-usual position. The net 12% reporting better-than-usual order books was slightly ahead of the balance of 11% reporting such a position in last month's survey. The November reading for order books had also been the strongest since 1995.
And 34% said export order books were above normal in the latest survey, with only 23% declaring a worse-than-usual position. The net 11% reporting above-normal export order books was a significant improvement on a corresponding balance of 1% in last month's survey.
Capital Economics said: "The survey results were a sign that manufacturing rounded off the year with another month of solid growth, and so could make a healthy contribution to GDP (gross domestic product) growth in Q4."