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Euro zone business roars as Germany leads

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LONDON (Reuters) – Euro zone business growth is roaring ahead as the year draws to a close, surveys showed yesterday, supporting the European Central Bank’s move last month to announce a throttling back of its monetary stimulus.

Surveys covering both the services and manufacturing industries outshone even the most optimistic forecasters in Reuters polls – indicating growth is broad-based – with factories having the second-best month in the index’s history.

An earlier sister survey from Germany showed Europe’s largest economy shifted into an even higher gear in November as factories churned out goods at the fastest pace in nearly seven years.

France’s equivalent confounded economists’ expectations for a slowdown and activity grew at the fastest pace in 6-1/2 years this month as recent labour reforms pushed firms to add staff quicker than at any time since 2001.

The currency bloc has emerged as the surprise economic star of 2017, with growth rates outpacing its peers, and future-looking indicators in the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) suggest the upturn still has momentum.

IHS Markit’s composite flash PMI for the euro zone jumped to 57.5 this month, its highest since April 2011 and smashing the median forecast in a Reuters poll for no change from a final October reading of 56.0. Anything above 50 indicates growth.

“All in all, there are no signs of stopping the euro zone economy at the moment and 2018 is likely to start on a strong footing,” said Bert Colijn at ING.

“With continued monetary support and some expected improvements in global growth in 2018, the euro zone economy is set for another year of surprising growth.”

December looks like it will be busy, too. A new business index rose to 56.9 from 56.6, a near seven-year high and so IHS Markit said the PMI, if maintained, points to fourth quarter growth of 0.8 percent, outstripping the 0.5 percent predicted in a Reuters poll earlier this month.

Britain’s overall economic growth sped up moderately in the third quarter but was only a tepid 0.4 percent, official figures showed yesterday.

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