Solid factory data boost eurozone stocks

European equities pushed higher on Monday (Jan 2), with data showing eurozone manufacturing growth at a 68-month high.
European equities pushed higher on Monday (Jan 2), with data showing eurozone manufacturing growth at a 68-month high.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - European equities got off on the right foot in 2017, pushed higher on Monday by a stellar set of data showing eurozone manufacturing growth at a 68-month high.

With major Asian, London and US markets still closed for the New Year holiday, trading was expected to be light.

But sentiment was brightened by final results of December manufacturing surveys that showed robust performances across most of the eurozone, where the uncertainty over the impact of Britain's exit from the EU has threatened a tepid recovery.

The final eurozone manufacturing PMI figure for December came at 54.9 points, up from 53.7 in November. With a result above 50 indicating expansion, the result was the best since April 2011.

The surveys of companies about their performance and outlook are an important early indicator of how economies are faring before official data is collected and processed.

Germany's DAX 30 index rose 0.8 per cent in midmorning trading, while the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.2 per cent.

Manufacturing in the Netherlands and Austria were also at 68-month highs, with France close behind at a 67-month high, according to IHS Markit.

In another encouraging sign for France, which has been suffering from high unemployment, job creation was at its fastest rate since June 2011.

German manufacturing was at a 35-month high in December, and Italian manufacturing hit a 6-month high despite the political uncertainty of a change of government and a bank bailout.

China's official PMI, released on Sunday, showed manufacturing activity slowed slightly in December as the world's second largest economy stabilises.

The 51.4 registered in December was a drop from 51.7 in November, which had marked its fastest growth for two years.