Euro zone companies hire at fastest rate in 10 years

Manufacturing growth across the bloc accelerated in February

New manufacturing data suggests that economic activity in the euro zone is growing at a rate not seen since 2011.

IHS Markit's euro zone flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index suggests that manufacturing activity across the block has unexpectedly hit a 6-year high. It rose to 56.0 in February - up from 54.4 in January and well above the 50.0 mark.

February also saw the largest monthly rise in employment since August 2007.

Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit commented on the data:

"With inflows of new orders also surging and firms becoming even more optimistic about the year ahead, growth could even lift higher in coming months."

France's manufacturing data has shown strong improvement: "The big surprise was France, where the PMI inched above that of Germany for the first time since August 2012.

"Both countries look to be growing at rates equivalent to 0.6-0.7% in the first quarter. France’s revival represents a much-needed broadening out of the region’s recovery and bodes well for the eurozone’s upturn to become more self-sustaining," he continued.

This data is good news for policymakers in Frankfurt: "The ECB will be cheered by the signs of stronger growth and further upturn in price pressures, though will no doubt remain concerned that elections and Brexit could disrupt the business environment this year. No change in policy therefore looks likely until at least after the German elections in September," Mr Williamson added.