Euro zone businesses enjoyed their best quarter in six years at the start of 2017 and although growth was not as fast as earlier predicted the upturn was broad-based, a survey suggests. David Pollard reports.
They call themselves the Pulse of Europe. A grassroots movement that started here in Germany - but that's gaining support from elsewhere. Against what they see as a common threat. (SOUNDBITE) (German) DEMONSTRATOR TORSTEN SCHILLER, SAYING: "I am a staunch European, and I do see dangers that our Europe might break apart. And that's why I am here, to demonstrate for unity in Europe." The euro zone's economic heartbeat, at least, is pulsing strongly. The final composite PMI reading for March a wide margin above the 50 level that denotes growth. In Germany as in France, both services and manufacturing close to six year highs. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT, 7IM, JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, SAYING: "What you are seeing is rising confidence coming through here and this is quite interesting because considering you've got elections coming through not just in Germany but especially in France at the moment, you'd thing you'd get more nervousness here. But actually these economies seem to be going along really rather well. These figures are generally really rather good." And good for the ECB. Data last week showed euro zone inflation tumbling back to 1.5 per cent in March - way below the ECB's target rate of close to two percent. But today's PMI readings show output prices rising at their strongest in over half a decade. Proof for ECB fans that its 2.3 trillion euros stimulus programme is working - if not sufficient proof yet it's time to rein it back in. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT, 7IM, JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, SAYING: "The ECB have already given us an indication that they are going to consider slowing down the stimulation, and certainly these figures give them a further strength for that decision. But they are not going to that immediately, because the recovery is there but there are still some serious concerns and worries to manage." Politics - despite the upbeat data - still top of that list. Across the EU - and for those in the process of leaving it.