Euro-area manufacturing expanded faster than initially estimated last month, helped by growth in Spain and Italy and a stronger performance in Germany, the region’s largest economy.
Markit Economics said its Purchasing Managers Index rose to 52.2 from 51 in February. That was the highest in 10 months and exceeded a preliminary reading of 51.9. It’s also well above the 50 level that divides expansion from contraction.
Economic momentum within the 19-country region is gaining pace as the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank buys bonds to revive growth and inflation, and a weaker euro aids exporters. Markit’s report also highlighted divergences within the bloc, with Germany posting the fastest growth in almost a year, while France, Greece and Austria saw manufacturing contract.
“The euro-zone economy is reviving after last year’s slowdown,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit in London. “This is still a fledgling recovery, however, and the overall rate of expansion remains only modest.”
In Germany, the manufacturing index rose to 52.8 in March from 51.1 in February, higher than the 52.4 initially reported. Italy’s advanced to 53.3 from 51.9, exceeding the 52.1 median forecast of economists. The French gauge rose to 48.8 from 47.6, remaining below the key 50 mark. Spain’s index was at 54.3 and Ireland’s at 56.8.
The PMI report also showed that new orders at euro-region factories rose the fastest in 11 months in March. Employment increased the most since 2011.
That follows positive sentiment reports in the past week, including a fifth consecutive monthly increase for the Ifo business confidence index. A report on Monday showed euro-area economic sentiment rose to the highest level in more than 3 1/2 years, adding to signs that the fragile recovery is stabilizing.