Spain's manufacturing sector expanded at a solid pace in December thanks to strong output and hiring, a survey showed on Tuesday, in the latest sign that economic growth throughout 2017 held steady until the end of the year.
The manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, climbed to 55.0 in December from 54.2 in November.
Readings above 50 signal an expansion while readings below 50 signal a contraction.
However, there was a note of caution in the data as growth in new export orders fell to 56.9 in December from a near three-year high of 60.0 a month earlier.
Despite stronger increases in output and new work, manufacturers continued to shed staff in December. This led to a steep increase in output, with production rising for a 17th month.
The uptrend was driven by stronger market demand from home and worldwide markets, Dodhia added.
"That said, the level of business sentiment eased from November's 47-month high and remained weaker than the series average", the report noted.
The country's manufacturing sector witnessed higher payroll figures in December while the rate of job creation rose to its highest since August 2012.
"Challenges remain as the economy adjusts to recent shocks, but the overall upturn was robust compared to the trend observed for the survey history".
The survey showed that average input costs continued to rise sharply despite the rate softening to a four-month low.
"Given the strong conditions evident in the manufacturing sector, it is no surprise to see that firms are upbeat about the outlook, with more than six times as many companies expecting to see growth in 2018 as opposed to those who anticipate a decline", said Investec Ireland chief economist Philip O'Sullivan.