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Eurozone recovery ends year on a high

LONDON--Eurozone businesses ended the year on a high as new orders surged, but the chasm between a resurgent Germany and wilting France has widened this month, surveys showed on Monday.

Markit's Flash Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which gauges business activity across thousands of companies large and small, rose to 52.1 in December from 51.7 last month.

It was the second-highest reading since mid-2011 and beat the median forecast in a Reuters poll for 51.9. The index has been above the 50 mark that denotes growth for the entire second half.

However, survey compiler Markit warned that while the increase in growth was reassuring, the country-by-country breakdown of the data revealed a lopsided recovery, with France floundering and Germany steaming ahead.

“The rebound in the eurozone composite PMI in December makes for encouraging reading and may serve to sooth concerns about the sustainability of the recovery,” said Martin van Vliet, senior economist at ING.

“But we should not get too carried away either — the still-low level of the overall index is a firm reminder that this recovery is still very fragile and sluggish.”

The division between the eurozone's two biggest economies was marked.

The French composite PMI fell to a seven-month low of 47.0 and signaled a steady contraction in activity, while the same measure in Germany showed a solid expansion to 55.2.

Markit said the data suggested the eurozone economy, which escaped from its longest-ever recession earlier this year, would grow around 0.2 percent this quarter, in line with a Reuters poll published last week.

New orders rose for the fifth month, suggesting the recovery should continue into 2014.

German government bonds pared an early rise on Monday the data.

Manufacturing Cheer

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