[MADRID] Spain's manufacturing sector expanded faster in January, a survey showed on Monday, as the recovery following years of on-off recession gained steam and helped create jobs at the strongest pace in over seven years.
Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of manufacturing service companies stood at 54.7 in January, up from 53.8 in December and marking the 14th straight month the index was above the 50 line separating growth from contraction.
Spain's economy grew at its fastest pace in seven years in the last quarter of 2014, according to official data, building on hopes the slump prompted by the 2008 burst property bubble was over. "The Spanish manufacturing sector began the new year as it ended the previous one, with solid growth of production and new business amid reports of improving economic conditions. Particularly welcome was a further acceleration in the rate of job creation," said Markit economist Andrew Harker.
The employment index was 53.8 in January - the highest since June 2007. Spain has the second-highest unemployment rate in the European Union at 23.7 per cent, though recent data has shown joblessness is falling.
Low oil prices had lead to a sharp decline in input costs, prompting companies to lower their charges slightly, Markit said.