- Service sector activity in Italy improved to the highest level since November 2010 in June, fuelling optimism over the economic outlook of the euro zone’s third-largest economy, data showed on Thursday.

In a report, market research group Markit said that its Italian services purchasing managers’ index rose to a seasonally adjusted 53.9 last month from a reading of 51.6 in May. Analysts had expected the index to inch up to 51.8 in June.

Underpinning the gain in momentum was a marked and accelerated increase in incoming new work in the sector, the sharpest since July 2007.

A reading above 50.0 on the index indicates industry expansion, below indicates contraction.

Commenting on the report, Phil Smith, economist at Markit said, “The sector posted its best performance in terms of quarterly growth for four years. Moreover, a sharp rise in new work improved the prospects of this momentum being sustained in coming months, which indeed the data regarding future expectations corroborated.”

Following the release of the data, the euro was little changed against the U.S. dollar, with EUR/USD easing up 0.01% to trade at 1.3660.

Meanwhile, European stock markets were higher after the open. Italy FTSE MIB rose 0.6%, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 tacked on 0.35%, France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.5%, London’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.35%, while Germany''s DAX added 0.35%.

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