Manufacturing activity in the euro zone rose to its highest level since June 2011 in August, as the sector expanded across the majority of countries in the region, including struggling Spain and Italy.
The Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) came in at 51.4 in August, compared to 50.3 in July. A reading over 50 marks expansion. New orders for manufactured goods grew at their quickest rate since May 2011, boosting hopes that momentum in the sector will continue.
(Read more: Euro zone exits longest recession in over 40 year)
Markit's senior economist Rob Dobson said that unlike in previous months, the data was not driven solely by Germany, with the manufacturing sectors in other countries also posting growth.
"We shouldn't take away from this number the fact that it's a 26-month high. The longest journey towards recovery starts with the smallest step," Dobson told CNBC. "What we've seen in the last couple of months - euro zone manufacturing expanding in both of these months - those are the first steps, hopefully, towards a more sustainable recovery."