Businesses across the euro zone marked the end of the first quarter by ramping up activity at the fastest pace in almost six years to meet burgeoning demand that came despite sharper price rises, a survey found. David Pollard reports.
Brighter days ahead for the euro zone economy. The first PMI numbers for this month show a sparkling performance from both manufacturing and services. The headline composite number hitting 56.7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NICK PARSONS, GLOBAL HEAD FX STRATEGY, NAB, SAYING: "The euro zone looks in robust shape at the moment. The flash PMIs for March show that output is at a six-year high in the euro zone, so certainly the near-term outlook for the euro zone is looking very solid indeed." The above-forecast numbers surprised the markets. And might catch the ECB on the back foot. A pledge to continue a trillion-dollar QE programme until the end of the year likely to face even more pressure from critics like Germany. Despite recent hints from some of Mario Draghi's ECB policymakers they'll take their foot off the pedal - at some point. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NICK PARSONS, GLOBAL HEAD FX STRATEGY, NAB, SAYING: "It's already announced a non-taper taper. Mr Draghi himself has been at paint to point out that it's not a taper. But we do know one is coming because QE can't run indefinitely." It's unlikely just yet: a newspaper now quoting ECB chief economist Peter Praet as calling for 'patience' for policies to work. Especially on sluggish wage growth. Right now though, the signs are good. New business is up strongly, according to the data. That and factory headcount also increasing at the fastest rate in over half a decade.