Eurozone grew at faster pace as 2013 ended

THE EUROZONE economies grew at their fastest pace in two and a half years this December, as the currency bloc attempts to emerge from stagnation.

According to Markit’s purchasing managers’ index, which surveys firms across the region, businesses are expanding at the most rapid pace since the summer of 2011.

The headline score for the index was 53.2, above the neutral 50 mark, indicated growth in both the manufacturing and services sectors. The region emerged from recession during the middle of last year. The French economy still appears to be shrinking, but at a slower pace than it previously has. Another quarter of contraction would push the country into its third recession since 2008.

“While gathering pace, the upturn remains fragile. Companies cut employment again, and selling prices continued to fall amid still-weak demand. Deflationary forces are clearly a concern in many countries,” said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.

The Spanish government also announced the country’s fourth quarter unemployment rate yesterday, revealing a slight increase to 26.03 per cent. The rate of joblessness peaked at 27.16 per cent in the first quarter of 2013.