According to preliminary data from the research organization Markit Economics, the consolidated PMI of the euro zone in March rose to 52.5 points. A month earlier, the index was 48.8 points. For the first time since September 2010, the indicator crossed the 50-point mark, which separates the growth of business activity from its decline. According to Trading Economics, analysts on average expected the index to rise to 49.1 points.
The indicator of activity in the service sector of the eurozone this month rose to 48.8 points from 45.7 points in February. Eurozone manufacturing PMI jumped to a record high of 62.4. Experts expected the first indicator to rise to 46 points and the second to drop to 57.7 points.
In Germany, the composite PMI, according to preliminary estimates, rose to 56.8 points in March from 51.1 points a month earlier. Analysts had expected the indicator to rise to 51.6 points.
The index of activity in the service sector in Germany this month amounted to 50.8 points compared with 45.7 points in February against the forecast of 46.2 points. Manufacturing PMI jumped to a record 66.6 from 60.7. At the same time, the forecast was 60.8 points.
In France, the composite PMI rose to 49.5 points in March. A month earlier, the index was 47 points. The consensus forecast of experts assumed an increase in the indicator to 47.2 points.
The index in the French services sector rose to 47.8 points from 45.6 points. The industrial PMI jumped to a 39-month high of 58.8 from 56.1. Analysts on average forecasted indicators at the level of 45.5 points and 56.5 points, respectively.
The composite PMI in the UK this month rose to 56.6 points from 49.6 points in February, while the forecast of an increase to 51.1 points.
Service sector activity in the UK rose to 56.8 points from 49.5 points. Manufacturing PMI jumped to 57.9, the highest since November 2017, from 55.1 in February. Experts expected the first indicator to rise to 51 points and the second to drop to 55 points.
Despite strong Eurozone PMI data, investors remain concerned that rising coronavirus cases and extended lockdowns in several European countries will hamper an already slow economic recovery.
The composite index of the largest enterprises in the region Stoxx Europe 600 by the end of trading rose by 0.02% and amounted to 423.39 points.
The British FTSE 100 indicator added 0.2%, the French CAC 40 - 0.03%, the Italian FTSE MIB - 0.39%, the Spanish IBEX 35 - 0.64%. The German DAX was down 0.35%.
Also, securities of large oil companies rose in price against the background of rising oil prices. Total SE rose 1.6%, BP Plc rose 2%, Royal Dutch Shell Plc rose 1.9%.
Carrefour SA, the largest retailer in Europe, rose 2.3%. The French company has agreed to acquire Brazilian food retailer Grupo BIG Brasil SA for 1.1 billion euros from Walmart Inc. and Advent International Corp.
E.ON SE shares gained 0.7%. The German energy concern returned to net profit in the fourth quarter of 2020 and predicted an improvement in financial performance for the current year.
The market value of Spanish banks CaixaBank SA and Bankia SA increased by 1.9% and 1.5%, respectively. CaixaBank announced its intention to complete the merger with the smaller Bankia by March 26, having received approval for the deal from the Spanish National Markets and Competition Commission.
Gamesys Group Plc soared 18.4% after the UK based online gambling company announced a possible merger with US Bally's Corp.
Leonardo SpA edged down 6.1%, one of the top performers in the Stoxx Europe 600, as the Italian aerospace and defense contractor announced the postponement of the IPO of its US division due to unfavorable market conditions.