Eurozone business activity speeds up in November

LONDON – Business activity across the 19-country eurozone grew at its strongest pace this year in November, prompting companies to take on staff at the joint-fastest rate since 2008, a survey showed Wednesday.

The findings are encouraging considering the host of uncertainties plaguing the world economy — from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, to the lack of clarity over the policies of President-elect Donald Trump and the collapse of some global trade deals.

The initial estimate of the purchasing managers’ index, compiled by IHS Markit, rose to 54.1 points in November from 53.3 in October. The figure is on a 100-point scale, with the 50 threshold separating growth from contraction.

Details from the index, which measures the services and manufacturing sectors, show companies’ order books are growing, prompting them to charge higher prices. To meet the growing demand, companies hired at the joint-fastest rate since February 2008, before the worst of the global financial crisis.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, says there are “plenty of signs that growth will continue to accelerate.”

He says the survey, which is based on responses from about 5,000 companies, points to quarterly economic growth of 0.4 per cent. Both Germany and France, the eurozone’s biggest economies, enjoyed a strong performance.