Bumper performances from France and Germany helped the eurozone’s recent healthy growth accelerate further in February, judging from a set of closely-watched surveys.

The currency area’s composite purchasing managers’ index leapt to 56.0 from 54.4 in January, its highest level in almost six years.

IHS Markit’s PMI surveys question firms on measures such as orders, hiring and inventories to give a picture of the overall health of a sector. The surveys are seen as useful early indicators of economic growth, with a headline number above 50 indicating expansion during the month.

The survey results suggest a quarterly GDP growth rate of 0.6 per cent if the pace can be sustained.

Respondents reported their fastest rate of job creation in nine and a half years, while optimism about the months ahead also improved.

The bloc’s manufacturing output, driven by the best month for German factories in three years, rose to 55.5, its highest level since early 2011.

The service sector, which has lagged behind in recent months, also picked up the pace, jumping to 55.6 from 53.7 in January.

Chris Williamson, IHS Markit chief business economist, said:

The eurozone economy moved up a gear in February.

With inflows of new orders also surging and firms becoming even more optimistic about the year ahead, growth could even lift higher in coming months.

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