Factory activity quickens in Dec.: PMI

Moderation in fuel price rises is though to be behind the statistic

A number above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

Despite the industry struggling to fire on all cylinders, housebuilding levels proved robust and new orders accelerated at the fastest pace since May. "The outlook is also reasonably bright".

"Strong business performance was underpinned by the fastest expansions in output and new orders since December 2012 and October 2016, respectively". Construction companies indicated that another strong contribution from house building helped to offset subdued civil engineering activity and reduced volumes of commercial work. The headline index has signaled growth for 54 successive months.

"Business optimism was subdued at levels not seen since 2013, but the improvement in new order growth in December contributed to the biggest surge in job creation since June". Especially, survey respondents noted higher prices for blocs, insulation, bricks and roof tiles, along with continued rises in the cost of imported products.

"A key development to watch out for in 2018 is the potential advent of accelerating inflation", said Larry Hatheway, chief economist at GAM.

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"The upturn in growth in the more locally focused service sector in December provides evidence of stronger domestic demand helping accelerate the pace of economic expansion", he said, adding that the survey pointed to growth of at least 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

The British pound gained ground against the USA dollar earlier Thursday, both before and after the release of the December services PMI. However, it is above the 50 no change threshold for the third straight month.

However, the United Kingdom economy is still struggling to bounce back to levels seen in the final quarter of 2016 - when GDP rose by 0.6 per cent. Global growth also got a boost from a solid reading in China's manufacturing sector.

Indicating a marginal uptick in services sector activities in December, the Nikkei Services Business Activity Index rose to 50.9 in the month from 48.5 in November.