February 3, 2017 / 9:05 AM / 10 months ago

Euro zone businesses stay buoyant at start of 2017 - PMI

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Euro zone businesses started 2017 by increasing activity at the same multi-year record pace they set in December and faster growth in demand suggested the good times will continue, a survey showed on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a shop with a sale sign on display in Brussels, Belgium, July 2, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Vidal/File Photo

IHS Markit’s final composite Purchasing Managers’ Index held at December’s 54.4. It has not been higher since May 2011 and beat a 54.3 flash estimate.

It has been above the 50 mark dividing growth from contraction since mid-2013.

“The latest reading is comparable to GDP rising at a quarterly rate of 0.4 percent, indicating that the economy is starting 2017 on a solid footing,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economists at IHS Markit.

“Meanwhile, faster growth of new business and an upturn in confidence about the year ahead to the highest since the region’s debt crisis bodes well for the robust pace of growth to be sustained in coming months.”

The new business sub-index climbed to 54.3 last month from 54.1, its highest reading since November 2015.

A PMI for the dominant services industry matched December’s 53.7, just pipping the earlier flash reading of 53.6.

Service providers remained optimistic last month and increased headcount at the fastest rate since July. The employment index rose to 52.8 from 52.2.

But recent hopes the euro zone growth and inflation have finally turned a corner are on shaky ground and will only be maintained if there are no major upsets in several national elections this year, a Reuters poll showed last month.

The poll also predicted first quarter economic growth of 0.4 percent.

Reporting by Jonathan Cable; editing by John Stonestreet

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