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LONDON: January 03, 2018. According to the final IHS Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for 2017, eurozone manufacturing reached 60.6 in December, the highest level since mid-1997 due to strong rates of expansion in output, new orders and employment.

HAMBURG port PMI data saw record highs in Austria, Germany and Ireland and remained close to November's peak in the Netherlands. 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 index is based on survey data collected from a representative panel of 3,000 manufacturing firms in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, the Republic of Ireland and Greece.

Together these countries account for 89 percent of eurozone manufacturing activity.

Chris Williamson, chief Business Economist at IHS Markit said the December results suggested the eurozone will see a strong start to 2018 with near-record levels of new orders, purchasing growth and job creation: "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.

"Perhaps most encouraging of all is the extent to which the strongest upturn is being recorded for producers of investment goods such as plant and machinery, which highlights the upswing in business investment.

"The growth spurt means many forecasters, notably the ECB, have revised their euro area growth projections for 2018 higher. The near- record incidences of supply chain delays seen towards the end of 2017 indicate that pricing power is shifting from the buyer to the seller, suggesting upward price pressures are gradually returning," he added.

A complementary global PMI manufacturing index produced by JP Morgan and IHS Markit rose to a seven-year high in December - indicating the best rates of expansion in output and new orders since February 2011, "leading to improved jobs growth and rising business optimism."

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