Business activity in the 18-member euro area has managed to keep up its momentum, the latest Markit PMI index has shown. The positive figures came on the back of France returning to output growth and more orders.
Business activity in the eurozone appeared in a robust state for the ninth month in a row in March, the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) by the London-based Markit research group showed Monday.
The region's manufacturing and service sector clocked 53.2, just slightly below the 32-month high of 53.3 it had hit a month earlier, with all readings above 50 indicating expansion in business activity.
"The ongoing upturn in March rounds off the eurozone's best quarter since the second quarter of 2011," Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson said in a press release.
Fresh hope from France
The most positive signal came from the bloc's second-largest economy, France, which saw growth return to its output and also logged an increase in new orders.
Germany for its part recorded slower growth than before, but companies in Europe's powerhouse expected a pick-up in the coming months, with the rest of the region enjoying its best quarter in three years.
Markit said eurozone employment also rose marginally for the second month in a row, providing first signs of job creation since June 2011.
The PMI index is based on a survey of some 5,000 companies in the euro area.
hg/slk (dpa, AFP)