A key purchasing index shows business growth in Europe expanded beyond estimates in February, signaling modest gains in the Eurozone. The latest Markit Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 53.3 last month, above the prior estimate of 52.7, and well into a range that demonstrates expansion.
According to Markit, a financial services company, the Eurozone is set to grow by at least 0.4% in the first quarter of 2014, a result that would be the best GDP improvement for the region in three years. Spurred by a jump in exports and stronger investment, the Eurozone grew by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013, official numbers showed. Analysts do point out, though, that there’s still a disparity between the economic gains of individual countries within Europe. For example, German companies expanded sharply, as the country’s composite PMI reached 56.4 in February, a 33-month high. In France, however, companies performed much poorer, as the composite PMI among French firms declined to 47.9, according to Markit.
As the Federal Reserve in the U.S. has closely watched for signs of inflation, the European Central Bank (ECB) has as well. In Europe, though, figures show inflation was just 0.8% in February, below the ECB’s target of 2%. It’s possible, analysts say, that the ECB may attempt through new policies to prevent Eurozone deflation when the bank meets this week.