Euro zone business recovery ends year on a high

Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:30am EST
 
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By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) - Euro zone businesses ended the year on a high as new orders surged, but the chasm between a resurgent Germany and wilting France has widened this month, surveys showed on Monday.

Markit's Flash Euro zone Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which gauges business activity across thousands of companies large and small, rose to 52.1 in December from 51.7 last month.

It was the second-highest reading since mid-2011 and beat the median forecast in a Reuters poll for 51.9. The index has been above the 50 mark that denotes growth for all the second half.

However, survey compiler Markit warned that while the increase in growth was reassuring, the country-by-country breakdown of the data revealed a lopsided recovery, with France floundering and Germany steaming ahead.

"The rebound in the euro zone composite PMI in December makes for encouraging reading and may serve to sooth concerns about the sustainability of the recovery," said Martin van Vliet, senior economist at ING.

"But we should not get too carried away either - the still-low level of the overall index is a firm reminder that this recovery is still very fragile and sluggish."

The division between the euro zone's two biggest economies was marked.

The French composite PMI fell to a seven-month low of 47.0 and signaled a steady contraction in activity, while the same measure in Germany showed a solid expansion to 55.2.   Continued...

 
A Businessman is silhouetted as he stands under the Arche de la Defense, in the financial district west of Paris, November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann