Eurozone manufacturing posts highest growth in 31 months .

Eurozone manufacturing posts highest growth in 31 months .

BRUSSELS - Business activity in the eurozone posted its strongest growth in 31 months in a fresh sign of recovery though France remained a sore point, a key survey showed Thursday.

Markit Economics' said its Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for December rose to 52.7 from 51.6 in November, the third consecutive monthly rise.

"A strengthening upturn in the manufacturing sector is helping the euro area recovery become firmly established," said Markit's chief economist Chris Williamson.

The latest data pointed to an increase in production of approximately one per cent in the last 2013 quarter.

"With producers reporting further growth of new orders, exports and backlogs of work, the stage is set for a good start to 2014, during which it seems likely that the manufacturing sector will help drive a meaningful, albeit still modest recovery," he added.

Germany, Italy and Spain recorded the strongest rises in output since early 2011 but France on the other hand saw a steepening downturn in part due to a fall in exports.

"This suggests that competitiveness is a key issue which the French manufacturing sector needs to address," Markit said.

Even Greece registered a 52-month high while France fell to a seven-month low.

With growth holding, levels of employment remained stable in December, seeing job creations in Germany, Italy and Ireland, and a slowing rate of job cuts in Spain and Greece. Unemployment quicked in France and Austria however.

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