- Italy's service sector rounded off 2017 in a positive fashion, recording strong gains in activity and new orders amid reports of positive market conditions, according to HIS Markit.

As a number of companies grappled with capacity pressures at their units, staffing levels were raised to the strongest degree since March.

Less positive was an acceleration of input price inflation to a three-month high, whilst output charges remained under pressure.

Business expectations were positive, but slipped to the lowest recorded by the survey since the start of the year.

After accounting for seasonal factors, the headline Business Activity Index, which is based on a single question asking respondents to report on the actual change in business activity at their companies compared to one month ago, improved to a level of 55.4 in December. That was up from November's 54.7 and the best reading since July.

Growth has now been recorded for 19 months in a row.

December's strong gain in activity was closely correlated to a sharp rise in new business. Latest data showed that the gain in new work was the best recorded since June 2006 amid reports of positive market conditions. Increased promotional and marketing activities also helped firms to secure new business.

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