Eurozone manufacturing grows strongly in January

Porsche cars ready for export Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Eurozone manufacturing activity is at its strongest since mid-2011

Eurozone manufacturing grew strongly in January on the back of new orders, a closely-watched business survey suggests, with Germany leading the way.

Markit's Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 54 in January, its strongest month since May 2011 - a figure above 50 indicates growth.

This compares to December's figure of 52.7 and reflects the overall pickup in eurozone economic activity.

But France failed to break the 50 mark.

"The eurozone manufacturing recovery gained significant further momentum in January, with final PMI readings for Germany, France and the region as a whole all exceeding the earlier flash estimates," said Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist.

Germany's manufacturing PMI rose to a 32-month peak, said Markit, while France's rate of contraction slowed, but it still failed to move into growth territory.

Greece's PMI was 51.2 - the first time it has been above 50 since 2009 - joining Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria and Ireland in the growth stakes.

All the countries in the survey reported an increase in exports.

New orders across the 18-country region rose at their fastest pace for nearly three years, Markit said, encouraging manufacturers to take on new staff.

As a result, the employment index rose from 49.9 to 51 in January - the first time it has moved into positive territory for two years.

Despite this, eurozone unemployment remains stubbornly high at 12%.

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