That means that in the final throngs of 2017, activity levels improved at the fastest pace since the recovery from the global financial crisis.
There were positive signals for the near-term business outlook, with new order growth reaching a seven-month high and job creation the strongest since June.
Latest data showed core sector, spanning coal, steel, crude oil, refinery products, steel, cement, fertiliser and electricity, rose at a 13-month high of 6.8% in November while auto sales grew 9.2% in 2017 compared to the previous year. Exports sales, however, grew at a marginal pace.
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola slams Premier League festive schedule
The results have been incredible as the Citizens are playing like the best team in Premier League history. Today I don't know what happened, today it's about the last action, "said a disappointed Guardiola ".
The UK services PMI, produced by data firm Markit, has jumped to 54.2 for last month, from 53.8 in November. The report noted faster growth of output, total new work and export sales, as well as an increase in backlogs of work. Outstanding business expanded for the nineteenth-straight month.
"However, the sector continues to face some turbulence as delayed customer payments contributed to greater volumes of outstanding work", Aashna Dodhia, Economist at IHS Markit and author of the report said. Panellists linked rises to higher raw material prices, which partly stemmed from supplier delays. "This expansion was mainly driven by manufacturing companies, with output growth here the sharpest since December 2012", Dodhia added. With business optimism about the year ahead running at its highest for two years in the closing months of 2017, companies are clearly expecting to be busier in 2018.
The British pound gained ground against the U.S. dollar earlier Thursday, both before and after the release of the December services PMI. That's something that likely weighed on staff hiring plans.
"A key development to watch out for in 2018 is the potential advent of accelerating inflation", said Larry Hatheway, chief economist at GAM.