The euro zone economy closed out the year with the strongest growth in nearly seven years, driven by accelerating services and manufacturing activity across all major economies, a survey showed on Thursday.
The news will put pressure on the European Central Bank to close out its aggressive stimulus this year, and coincides with the central bank’s decision to halve its monthly bond purchases to 30 billion euros starting this month.
IHS Markit’s Final Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index — seen as a good overall growth indicator for the euro zone — rose to 58.1 in December from 57.5 in November and up slightly from the flash estimate of 58.0.
It is now at its highest since February 2011 and well above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.
“A stellar end to 2017 for the euro zone rounded off the best year for over a decade, continuing to confound widely held fears that rising political uncertainty would curb economic growth,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said in a release.
The average composite euro zone PMI reading for 2017, 56.4, was the best annual trend since 2006, Williamson noted — just before the financial crisis.
The data suggested fourth-quarter economic growth of 0.8 percent, faster than many other developed-market economies and exceeding the median forecast of 0.6 percent in a Reuters poll last month.