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Business activity picking up across the eurozone

PRIVATE sector output in the eurozone increased for the second consecutive month in September, as the services sector returned to positive territory, according to data released yesterday.<br /><br />Markit&rsquo;s purchase managers index (PMI) for the eurozone rose to a 16-month high of 50.8 in the period, up from 50.4 in August, though this was a smaller rise than had been expected.<br /><br />The services PMI rose to 50.6, from 49.9 in the previous month, its first move above 50 &ndash; the reading which indicates expansion &ndash; for 16 months. The manufacturing PMI rose to 49.0, from 48.2, a 15-month high.<br /><br />Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said the numbers &ldquo;round off the strongest quarter since the second quarter of last year, suggesting that the eurozone economy stabilised in the third quarter&rdquo;.<br /><br />However, analysts cautioned that rising unemployment figures could halt these increases and impact consumer spending during the crucial Christmas shopping period.<br /><br />IHS Global Insight chief economist Howard Archer commented that &ldquo;activity is still hardly racing ahead and serious obstacles remain to sustainable healthy eurozone growth&rdquo;.<br /><br />Unemployment in the 16-country eurozone increased during September for the 15th consecutive month.<br />