Factory activity quickens in Dec.: PMI

HAMBURG port

The dominant British services sector expanded faster than expected in December, delivering some more positive news about the United Kingdom economy after the manufacturing and construction sectors disappointed earlier in the week.

December data indicated a marked improvement in United States manufacturing operating conditions.

Adding to optimism that the strength in 2017 will continue in the months ahead, the survey's new orders subindex - a lead indicator on activity levels in the future - bounced to 55.8 from 55.2, leaving it at the highest level since early 2011.

IHS Markit said growth was registered across consumer, intermediate and investment goods during the month with rates of improvement accelerating in all three. In line with stronger production growth, employment rose further and at the fastest pace since September 2014.

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It also represents a four-year high. Similarly, the Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index rose to 53 in December from 50.3 in November. The growth in the sector was attributed to improved demand conditions in sectors like information & communications and finance & insurance.

Stronger demand has allowed firms to raise prices at the fastest pace in 10 months to make up for rising input costs.

"December saw a welcome upturn in service sector activity, highlighting the continued resilience of the economy as 2017 came to an end", said Chris Williamson, IHS Markit's chief business economist. Panellists linked rises to higher raw material prices, which partly stemmed from supplier delays.

Samuel Tombs, chief United Kingdom economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "The construction sector ended 2017 on a weak note, and it likely will continue to struggle in 2018". Volkswagen AG's main passenger-car brand said last Friday that production reached a record high previous year with global output of more than 6 million vehicles, while Philippe Buros, Renault SA head of sales for France, told BFM Business radio Tuesday that French orders are up too.

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