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The eurozone defied expectations of slowing growth in April, expanding for another month driven by impressive performance in France, according to a series of influential business surveys.

IHS Markit’s closely-watched measure of economic activity climbed to a fresh post-eurozone crisis high of 56.7 in April from 56.4 – beating forecasts to hit its highest level since April 2011 (any reading above 50 indicates growth).

Of the major eurozone economies, France led the pack this month as the country gets ready to vote in the first round of its presidential election on Sunday. Activity in Germany slowed but growth still remained comfortably near six-year highs.

The eurozone’s stuttering economic recovery has picked up momentum this year, driven by impressive falls in unemployment while rising inflation has seen businesses raise their output prices.

Markit’s figures suggest overall eurozone GDP is on track to expand 0.7 per cent in the second quarter, up from 0.6 per cent in the three months to March. A first estimate of official growth figures will be released next week.

“An interesting feature of the current upswing is that the positive momentum is broadly spread across most Eurozone countries and not only driven by a few strong ones”, said Carsten Bzeski at ING.

Overall GDP is on course to expand 2 per cent this year according to Jennifer McKeown at Capital Economics, who expects the figures will still not see the European Central Bank budge on its stimulus policies until 2018.

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