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06 January 2019, 03:06 | Austin Hogan
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This was higher than the 50.4 recorded in November when it hit a 28-month low, and above the 50.7 reading economists were expecting. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, rose 0.71% at 96.81 in late trading.
However, despite December's increase in manufacturing activity, the average PMI reading in the fourth quarter of 2018 was the weakest since the third quarter of 2016, which was the first quarterly survey to be carried out in the immediate aftermath of the vote to leave the EU.
The last time the index was below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction was May 2013. Factory gate charges also increased at a slower pace in December. After a slight rebound in November, new order growth moderated in December.
Data Friday showed the housing market had its worst 12 months since 2013 past year, consumers remained reticent about borrowing and a gauge of services, the largest part of the economy, stayed sluggish.
China's central bank said on Wednesday it will adjust the calculation of some banks' reserve ratios, a move aimed at boosting the impact of a previous easing step as the economy slows.
Germany, the biggest eurozone economy, registered 51.5 for its December's manufacturing PMI, marking a 33-month low. China's manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in 19 months. "Furthermore, with new orders close to stalling in December and firms reporting reduced optimism towards the outlook, there's a lack of momentum heading into the New Year", commented Phil Smith, principal economist at IHS Markit.
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"A shift to inventory reduction was highlighted by purchasing activity in the manufacturing sector rising at the weakest rate for one and a half years in December, providing further evidence that companies have become increasingly cautious about spending amid rising uncertainty about the outlook", Williamson said.
Viet Nam's PMI was 53.8 in December, signalling solid improvement in the health of the Vietnamese manufacturing sector.
"The recent success of Vietnamese manufacturing firms in generating strong new order growth continued in December", said Andrew Harker, Associate Director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.
The BoE figures showed the annual growth rate in unsecured consumer lending had slowed to 7.1 percent in November from 7.4 percent in October, the smallest increase since March 2015.
"Uncertainties regarding Brexit disruption on supply chains and the exchange rate are also weighing on business confidence", Mr Dobson said.
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