Manufacturing in the Eurozone is growing at its fastest pace since April 2014, with Italy posting its highest growth rate in nearly five years.
Markit's manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) – compiled from a survey of businesses – rose to a score 53.2 in December from 52.8 in November. It also slightly above an earlier "flash" estimate of 53.1.
Figures above 50 imply the sector grew over the month, with December's higher score implying faster growth than in the previous month. Markit said rates of growth in production, new orders and new export orders contributed to the improvement.
The best performing members of the currency bloc were Italy, which scored 55.6, and Ireland, which scored 54.2. Italy's score was a 57-month high.
"Although it [the Eurozone PMI] remains below the levels reached during the previous recovery cycles in 2011/2012, the survey suggests that the business cycle is building momentum and it is likely to strengthen over the coming months," said economist Clemente De Lucia from BNP Paribas.
The new-orders index, the most forward looking component of the survey, kept on increasing, rising by 0.6 points to 54.2 in December, it highest level since March 2014. The output index was also on the rise, suggesting that the manufacturing sector ended the year on a relatively positive tone."
Both input and output prices continued to fall but the rates of decline slowed in December, Markit said.