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More evidence of a strong start to the year in the eurozone economy.

Economic sentiment in the 19-country bloc got off to a good start in the first quarter with the headline number accelerating by 9 points, according a survey of eurozone economic experts.

All three main sub-indices of the gauge compiled by Germany’s Ifo think-tank – including six month forward expectations and views on the current economic climate – rose this month to take the overall balance to 17.2 points from 8.2 – the highest since the aftermath of the Greek crisis in 2015 (see chart above).

But in worrying signs of divergence, sentiment in the most troubled economies remained subdued. Greece, Italy and Portugal reported a dip in the “current assessment” measure, as Athens prepares for another major month in its latest bailout talks and the Italian government gets ready for a looming bailout of its oldest bank.

Despite worrying developments in the southern part of the bloc, overall eurozone GDP growth managed to outpace the US last year, expanding by 1.7 per cent (US: 1.6 per cent).

“Expectations are far more positive than last quarter. The economic recovery is gathering impetus”, said Clemens Fuest, head the Ifo.

The survey is made up of responses from 340 economic experts.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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