The euro area private sector grew at the fastest pace since last July as a record expansion of manufacturing output was accompanied by a return to growth in the service sector, flash survey data from IHS Markit showed on Friday.
The flash composite output index rose unexpectedly to a 9-month high of 53.7 in April from 53.2 in the previous month. The score was forecast to fall to 52.8. A score above 50.0 indicates expansion.
Output climbed for two months after four months of decline, with the latest expansion the second-largest recorded since September 2018.
Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said, “In a month during which virus containment measures were tightened in the face of further waves of infections, the eurozone economy showed encouraging strength.”
“Although the service sector continued to be hard hit by lockdown measures, it has returned to growth as companies adjust to life with the virus and prepare for better times ahead,” Williamson added.
While today’s data suggest that the euro-zone economy might have proved a little more resilient at the start of the second quarter, it is still going to be very poor for the euro-zone, Jessica Hinds, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
The flash manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index climbed to a record 63.3 from 62.5 a month ago, while it was forecast to drop to 62.0.
At the same time, the service sector continued to lag behind, principally reflecting further efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in many member states. Nonetheless, the sector grew for the first time since last August.
The services PMI came in at 50.3 in April, up from 49.6 in the prior month and the expected score of 49.1.
The survey showed that growth in Germany’s private sector slowed, while France returned to growth in April.
Germany’s private sector growth moderated in April with services activity stalling and the upturn in manufacturing production partly held back by supply shortages.
The flash composite output index dropped more-than-expected to 56.0 from 57.3 in March. The expected score was 56.8.
The services PMI came in at 50.1 in April, down from 51.5 a month ago and expectations of 50.8.
Meanwhile, the manufacturing PMI fell to 66.4 from 66.6 in the previous month. Economists had forecast the index to decline to 65.8.
France’s private sector returned to growth for the first time since August 2020, driven by a fresh increase in services activity amid continuing manufacturing sector growth.
The flash composite output index advanced unexpectedly to 51.7 from 50.0 in March. The score was forecast to fall to 48.8.
A fresh increase in services activity outweighed a slight slowdown in manufacturing growth. That said, the rise in output at goods producers was far stronger than that at their service sector counterparts.
The services PMI came in at 50.4, up from 48.2 in March and above forecast of 46.5. However, the manufacturing PMI fell slightly to 59.2 from 59.3 a month ago. Nonetheless, the reading was better than the consensus of 59.0.
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