Scottish economy growth gains momentum, Bank of Scotland says
Growth in the Scottish economy gained momentum at the start of the year, according to a survey.
The Bank of Scotland's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) report showed that the private sector picked up after easing off at the end of last year.
January saw the "most marked increase" in manufacturing and service sectors for three months.
Donald MacRae, chief economist at the bank, said: "Business confidence continues to increase."
He said this ensured that the Scottish economy not only continued the recovery but entered 2014 with "growth momentum."
The study highlights a 16th straight month of growth for the private sector. During January, Scotland saw a rise in new business, increased output, and rising employment.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said it showed a solid start to the year, following further growth in Scottish gross domestic product (GDP).'Challenges remain'
He said: "The continued progress in Scotland's economic recovery is helping to create more jobs and opportunities, with Scotland outperforming the UK in terms of employment, unemployment and inactivity rates.
"We know challenges will still remain as the recovery progresses, and that's why there will be no let-up in the Scottish government's determination to secure economic growth through our investment programme in skills and capital projects.
"We can further strengthen our approach by acquiring the full powers of independence to build a wealthier, fairer and economically-sustainable Scotland."
Scotland Office minister David Mundell said it showed that the country continued to do well as part of the UK.
"We are providing the conditions for Scottish businesses to grow and create jobs because we are part of a strong, secure and influential UK economy," he said.
"There is no room for complacency however, and we must continue to do everything we can to support Scottish business up and down the country.
"That is why from April we are introducing our employment allowance which provides Scotland with a boost of £100m by cutting the National Insurance bill of every Scottish business."