WEIR Group has not had its troubles to seek since the plunge in crude oil prices in the second half of 2014 sparked a steep downturn in activity in its key US market.

The Glasgow engineering giant, which is heavily exposed to the US fracking sector, made around 2,000 redundancies and cut costs by £170 million as it grappled with plummeting oil prices, which dipped below $30 at the start of 2016 having been as high as $114 in 2014.

The downturn took a heavy toll on Weir, with profits for 2016 down 22 per cent on the year before at £170m and turnover 11 per cent off at £1.86 billion.

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But even as it unveiled its 2016 results, chief executive Jon Stanton suggested things were starting to improve in the final few weeks of the year. There had been a 10 per cent uptick in order growth in its key oil and gas and minerals market in the fourth quarter as oil prices staged a partial recovery. Now Weir is saying that recovery is showing real momentum.

Having signalled in April that business was at the beginning of a “cyclical upturn” in its core markets, it followed that yesterday by stating it has been benefiting from a pick up in shale activity across the Atlantic in recent weeks, leading to increased volumes and an improvement in pricing.

With oil prices still remaining stubbornly below $50 a barrel, talk of a full recovery in the oil and gas sector remains far-fetched, notably in the North Sea which has paid a heavy price for the downturn.

But Weir’s recovery is an encouraging sign, not just for the Glasgow business but all companies whose fortunes are linked to oil and gas prices.