PARIS — Europe’s economy is showing unmistakable signs of perking up, a private sector report showed on Tuesday, providing evidence that the European Central Bank’s bond-buying program and a weaker euro are helping to stimulate growth.
Markit Economics, a data analysis firm based in London, said its March survey of purchasing managers across the 19-nation eurozone showed output expanding at the quickest pace since May 2011, with its composite index of business activity rising to 54.1 from 53.3 in February. An index reading greater than 50 suggests economic expansion, while a number below that level suggests contraction.
“The improvement provides welcome news to a region awaiting signs that the E.C.B.’s quantitative easing is stimulating the real economy,” Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist, said in a statement, referring to the central bank’s 60 billion euro, or about $65 billion, a month bond-buying program.
Mr. Williamson estimated that the currency bloc’s gross domestic product would show a 0.3 percent first-quarter expansion, equivalent to a roughly 1.2 percent annualized pace.
In addition to relatively strong German growth, Mr. Williamson cited “signs of a long-awaited recovery in France,” which he said appeared to be expanding at the fastest rate since 2011.
The purchasing managers’ data provides one of the most closely watched real-time guides to the eurozone’s economic health.
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