Growth in the Asean manufacturing economy gathered pace midway through the first quarter, according to the Nikkei ASEAN Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index.
IHS Markit economist Chris Williamson said Britain's PMI data so far this year pointed to first-quarter economic growth of almost 0.4 percent, even taking into account last week's subdued manufacturing PMI, which slipped to an eight-month low.
IHS Markit also said that in response to increased output requirements, service sector firms expanded their workforces at the fastest rate since December 2012.
Myanmar remained in second position, having also registered a quicker pace of improvement in operating conditions, while the Philippines dropped to fifth place as tax reforms continued to limit growth.
Irish services growth slows to three-month low in February, PMI shows
Euro zone inflation slowed to a 14-month low in February of 1.2%, well below the ECB's target of close to but below 2%, official data showed last week.
By country, rates of output growth were solid despite mostly slowing since January.
In spite of the fall in the manufacturing PMI for February, the rise seen today signifies that the composite PMI rose in February to 54.5 from 53.5 in January, stated Lloyds Bank. "February data indicated a sharp increase in new orders, the fastest for three months". However, the outlook for factory jobs across the region remains mixed amid ongoing signs of spare capacity. "Limited growth of selling prices suggests that, so far, companies have struggled to pass on greater costs to customers, which puts pressure on profit margins", Aw said.
This rate of growth is only fractionally weaker than in the last three months of 2017 - and in line with what the BoE believes to be the economy's maximum non-inflationary growth rate - so made a May rate rise likely, Williamson said.More news: Rafa Benitez impressed with 'very good' Liverpool during Newcastle defeat