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Financial News: Eurozone Private Sector Activity Expands Most In Nearly

Eurozone Private Sector Activity Expands Most In Nearly 6 Years

03/24/2017 - 07:52:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Eurozone private sector activity expanded at the fastest pace in almost six years in March, amid robust new orders and employment growth in both manufacturing and service sectors.

The composite output index rose unexpectedly to 56.7 from 56.0 in February, flash data from the purchasing managers' survey by IHS Markit showed Friday. The score was forecast to fall slightly to 55.8.

The latest reading was the highest since April 2011. A score above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

The survey showed the best employment growth for almost a decade as both manufacturing and service sector firms responded to surging order books.

Moreover, business optimism for the coming year rose to the highest since comparable records began in July 2012.

On the price front, the survey revealed that both service sector and manufacturing input costs and selling prices were found to have been rising at the steepest rates since the first half of 2011.

The first quarter Purchasing Managers' Index average of 55.7 was the highest since the same three-month period of 2011.

The March flash PMI rounds off the best quarter for six years and signals GDP growth of 0.6 percent in the first quarter, IHS Markit economist Chris Williamson said.

"The acceleration in growth towards the end of the quarter, as well as improving trends in new business and an increased appetite to hire, suggest that strong growth momentum will be sustained into the second quarter," the economist added.

However, Capital Economics economist Stephen Brown said there are still fundamental reasons to expect growth to slow in 2017 though the euro-zone composite PMI points to the strongest pace of GDP growth in two years in the first quarter.

The euro area services PMI improved unexpectedly to 56.5 from 55.5 in February. Economists had forecast a score of 55.3.

Likewise, the manufacturing PMI climbed to 56.2 from 55.4 in February. The expected reading was 55.3.

By country, growth accelerated in Germany to the strongest level since May 2011, driving job creation to the highest for six years.

Germany's composite output index rose for the second straight month in March to 57.0 from 56.1 in February. The current sequence of continuous expansion now stretches to 47 months.

The services PMI climbed more-than-expected to 55.6 in March from 54.4 in February. The services activity growth hit a 15-month high. The expected score was 54.5.

At the same time, the factory PMI climbed to 58.3 from 56.8 in February, while it was forecast to fall to 56.5.

Activity growth in France edged above that seen in Germany, reaching the highest since May 2011. The French upturn was led by a surge in service sector growth.

France's flash composite output index rose to a 70-month high of 57.6 in March from 55.9 in February.

The services PMI moved up unexpectedly to 58.5 from 56.4 in February. The expected reading was 56.1.

The manufacturing PMI came in at 53.4 versus 52.2 in February. The score was forecast to improve to 52.4.

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