Amid the fear and doubt surrounding the future of the Eurozone, business growth in the economic bloc has reached a seven-month high.
With any reading above 50 indicating growth, the Markit purchasing managers’ index score was 53.7 for February, which, although lower than the 53.9 given in a flash estimate last month, is still above January’s 52.7.
There was a rise too in the composite index, a measure combining both industry and service sector readings. It rose to 53.3 from 52.6.
Why it’s interesting
There are a few reasons these figures are eye-catching. For the first time since April last year, there was growth across each of the Eurozone’s four largest economies: Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
By country, the fastest growers were Ireland (60.7) and Spain (56). Germany, France, and Italy also grew, at 53.8, 52.2 and 51.0 respectively. France would have been hopping for joy: 52.2 is its highest score for 42 months and the strongest growth in both output and new business since August 2011. The green shoots were made greener by news the scores were boosted by a rise in new business for the bloc as a whole.
There is a lot of optimism in the survey too. Not since May 2011 have business expectations scored higher than this month's 64.1.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said:
There were clear signs of the Eurozone economy reviving in February, with stronger inflows of new business and rising business confidence suggesting growth should continue to pick up in March.
The increasingly positive survey data put the region’s GDP on course to grow by 0.3 per cent in the first quarter.
With fears of a Grexit fading, it’s good to have some positive news about the Eurozone economy. The apple cart is on far from on a smooth path - unemployment is still high at 11.2 per cent – but business confidence is a welcome sign indeed.