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The eurozone is enjoying its best period of economic activity since the bloc’s debt crisis in 2011, with a major survey from the continent’s businesses pointing to another month of expansion in March.
IHS Markit’s survey of private sector firms in the 19-country bloc hit a six-year high last month driven by higher employment, output and new orders.
The overall eurozone PMI accelerated to 56.4 last month from 56 – just shy of a flash estimate of 56.7 but still comfortably above the 50 that divides growth from contraction.
France and Germany – the bloc’s two biggest economies – accounted for the bulk of the growth with the PMI at 70-month highs in both member states.
The index for Italy, the third largest eurozone economy, slipped back to 54.2 from 54.8 in February.
Markit’s survey, which closely tracks official GDP numbers, suggest the single currency area is enjoying its best quarter of growth in six years.
Within the survey, the employment gauge climbed to its highest in nearly a decade – figures that underline impressive labour market gains made in the last 12 months.
“This is a broad-based upturn among the euro’s largest members, with 0.6 per cent growth signalled for both Germany and France, while Spain looks set to have enjoyed 0.8-0.9 per cent growth in the first quarter”, said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.