Investing.com - Manufacturing activity in Italy expanded at a faster pace than expected in March, fuelling optimism over the economic outlook of the euro zone’s third-largest economy, data showed on Tuesday.
In a report, market research group Markit said that its Italian manufacturing purchasing managers’ index inched up to a seasonally adjusted 52.4 last month from a reading of 52.3 in February. Analysts had expected the index to fall to 52.1 in March.
Having averaged 52.6 over the first three months of the year, the headline index pointed to the best quarterly performance of the manufacturing sector since the second quarter of 2011.
A reading above 50.0 on the index indicates industry expansion, below indicates contraction.
Commenting on the report, Phil Smith, economist at Markit, said, “Exports remained the driving force behind the overall upturn, with anecdotal evidence indicating business wins across a range of external markets.”
“Also of note in March’s data was the simultaneous falls in input and output prices, which further highlight the risk of deflation in Italy.”
Following the release of the data, the euro was modestly higher against the U.S. dollar, with EUR/USD easing up 0.15% to trade at 1.3791.
Meanwhile, European stock markets were higher after the open. Italy''s FTSE MIB rose 0.4%, the Euro Stoxx 50 increased 0.2%, France’s CAC 40 added 0.5%, London’s FTSE 100 inched up 0.45%, while Germany''s DAX edged 0.35% higher.
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