Eurozone services activity strongest in almost seven years

Services sector rebounds in Dec as new orders stabilise

Services sector rebounds in Dec as new orders stabilise

Rates of expansion in France and Greece were the fastest for over 17 and nine years respectively while growth remained "robust" in Italy and Spain, said IHS Markit.

The composite output index rose to 58.1 in December from 57.5 in November, final data from IHS Markit showed Thursday. Thats up from 51.9 in November, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

But these bright spots failed to inspire a cheerier outlook from firms, with the balance of companies expecting a boost to output levels in 2018 proving one of the weakest for four-and-a-half years. Canada reached a three-month high of 54.7 on stronger new orders. Construction companies indicated that another strong contribution from house building helped to offset subdued civil engineering activity and reduced volumes of commercial work.

In terms of job creation both sectors - manufacturing and services - outstripped historical averages signalling a continued revival of the labour market. Especially, survey respondents noted higher prices for blocs, insulation, bricks and roof tiles, along with continued rises in the cost of imported products.

The British pound gained ground against the USA dollar earlier Thursday, both before and after the release of the December services PMI.

"The average PMI reading for 2017 is the highest annual trend in the survey's two-decade history, with eurozone countries dominating the worldwide PMI growth rankings for much of 2017", Williamson added.

Like the headline PMI, a reading above 50 indicates that new orders grew from a month earlier.

The eurozone economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 and unemployment fell to its lowest in nearly nine years. "The sector has therefore broadly maintained its solid boost to broader economic expansion in the fourth quarter".

United Kingdom construction companies indicated an uneven recovery in business activity at the end of 2017.

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