New hope for Eurozone as consumer sales soar
Retail sales across the Eurozone grew by 1.1% in January, according to official figures, beating investors' forecasts by a wide margin. Compared with a year earlier, sales were 3.7% higher as plunging petrol prices provided a boost to consumers' spending power. A separate survey of Eurozone businesses showed that output in the key services sector expanded strongly last month. 'There were clear signs of the Eurozone economy reviving in February, with stronger inflows of new business and rising business confidence suggesting growth should continue to pick up in March,' said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson. Markit's monthly purchasing managers' index for services hit a seven-month high of 53.7 - well above the 50 mark that signals expansion. The composite index, which covers both services and manufacturing, hit 53.3 in February, pointing to the fastest economic growth since July last year.
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