Data showed manufacturing activity across the euro zone accelerated faster than previously thought last month, adding to signs the bloc's economy is recovering. Hayley Platt reports.
New orders in the euro zone came flooding in during March. Business activity overall increased in the region at its fastest pace as customers took advantage of discounted goods, according to data from Markit. Spain's service sector grew at its fastest since August - helping boost unemployment. And Germany's economy continued to flourish. Its private sector was also growing at its fastest rate in eight months. France was the only country to disappoint, slipping back slightly from the previous month. Italy's service sector managed a return to growth after February's figures were flat. The question is will it last. BGC's Mike Ingram. SOUNDBITE: Mike Ingram, BGC Partners, saying (English): "What we need to see really is see signs that European companies are earning more, investing more and employing more. Even though the narrative in the market is European earnings looking pretty good, particularly with a weaker euro against the U.S. earnings slump." Business optimism in Britain also impressed. Markit's survey - excluding retail and the public sector showed it was the highest since May last year. Still former Prime Minister Tony Blair had this warning. (SOUNDBITE) (English), FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR, SAYING: "I believe passionately that leaving Europe would leave Britain diminished in the world, do significant damage to our economy and less obviously, but just as important to our future, would go against the very qualities that mark us out still as a great global nation." He was referring to Cameron's pledge to hold a referendum over Europe if re-elected in May. Ingram thinks he has a point. SOUNDBITE: Mike Ingram, BGC Partners, saying (English): "If you look at the evidence that we've seen there's no doubt that businesses in the UK have held back investment in the second half of last year, particularly ahead of an uncertain general election result." Britain's general election will take place on May 7. It's expected to be one of the most closely fought. With no single party thought to win an outright majority.