Buoyant French economy ahead of election a boon to eurozone

Reuters

Growth in manufacturing remained broadly stable at 58.2 after 58.3 in March, the highest level in almost six years.

Companies also hired more workers, but price pressures continue to mount with input costs and output charges rising at stronger rates, Smith noted.

The April reading was a tick lower than the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of 56.8 but still comfortably above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

This beats the 0.4% predicted in a Reuters poll released on Thursday, which had already given cause for optimism.

"April's rise in the euro zone composite PMI adds to evidence that the economy is performing well", said Jennifer McKeown, chief European economist at Capital Economics.

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The Markit Euro-Zone PMI rose to 56.7 in April, according to the preliminary "flash" estimate.

"France's elections pose the highest near-term risk to the outlook, but in the lead-up to the vote the business mood has clearly been buoyant", said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

In Germany, factory activity has remained high despite slowing services, suggesting Europe's biggest economy will carry an upswing into Q2. The former once again recorded the faster pace of expansion.

"Even though on the eve of the first round of the French elections a good portion of caution is recommendable, evidence is piling up that the euro zone economy could become the positive growth surprise of the year".

The US economy softened at the start of the year, with levels of output in both the manufacturing and services sectors dipping to seven-month lows, the results of a survey showed, but economists believed there were good reasons to expect a rebound going forward. An index measuring output jumped to 58.0 from 57.5, the highest since April 2011. That matched the highest reading of the sub-index, started in July 2012, set in January.

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