The headline Nikkei Malaysia (PMI) ― a composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance ― fell from 52.0 in November to 49.9 in December, signalling a broad stagnation in the goods-producing economy following the strongest growth in over three and-a-half years in the previous month, the report noted. This was consistent with the strongest improvement in the health of the sector since December 2012.
Factory Purchasing Managers' survey from euro area and the United Kingdom are due on Tuesday, headlining a light day for the European economic news.
Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said the expansion added momentum to a year marked by higher energy prices and the shutdown of Holden and Toyota auto production in Australia.
But the PMI also showed manufacturers added staff at the slowest pace in six months, adding to signs that job creation, a highlight of Britain's economy in recent years, is now slowing. Furthermore, the rate of growth quickened to the sharpest since October 2016.
"Manufacturers will be looking to the new year for the progress on the National Energy Guarantee and other measures to put downward pressure on business costs", Mr Willox said.
Despite the negative impact from the working day effect and lower inventory, December manufacturing PMI indicated that the Chinese economy continued to pick up strength, CICC said.
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"Interestingly, the wages component dipped in December, but at 60.2 it does point to the prospect of some pick-up in wages growth", Mr Oliver said. That said, the level of business confidence remained below the trend observed for the survey history.
The Indian manufacturing sector ended the year on a strong note, with operating conditions in December improving at the strongest rate in five years driven by significant increase in new orders, a monthly survey said.
Smith said the PMI not only posted the highest reading ever recorded since the survey began in 1996, but its current 37-month sequence of improving business conditions also beat the previous record set in the runup to the financial crisis.
The uptrend was driven by stronger market demand from home and global markets, Dodhia added.
However, the sector continues to face some turbulence as delayed customer payments contributed to greater volumes of outstanding work. In breakdown, the new order index for the service sector increased slightly slower month on month to 50.9, and that for the construction sector rose at a faster pace to 58.1.