What hasn't revived yet in the euro zone is company pricing power. As they have for all but two months in the last four years, firms cut prices to stimulate trade and the output price index only nudged up to 48.6 from 48.5.
Euro zone inflation was -0.2 percent in February, nowhere near the ECB's target of close to but just under 2 percent.
In Britain, which does not use the euro, inflation held steady at 0.3 percent in February, official data showed on Tuesday, putting no pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates from record lows anytime soon.
A PMI covering the bloc's dominant service industry also came in above expectations for no change from February's 13-month low of 53.3. It jumped to 54.0, matching the most optimistic forecast in a Reuters poll.
But some of the activity was driven by the running down of old orders. A backlogs of work index slipped below 50 for the first time since May, dipping to 49.8 from last month's break-even point.
Manufacturers also had a better month than expected for the euro zone. The factory PMI rose to 51.4 from February's one-year low of 51.2, just pipping the 51.3 median forecast. An output index, which feeds into the composite PMI, climbed to 52.7 from 52.3.
But suggesting April may see little improvement, factories barely increased headcount this month. The employment sub-index fell to 50.5 from 51.0, its lowest reading since late-2014.
That, said Apolline Menut at Barclays, meant Tuesday's numbers might not be a positive as they appear.
"Today's PMI headlines are quite misleading as they paint a more upbeat picture than the details suggest: weak external demand remains a drag on confidence, weighing on firms' hiring intentions, while deflationary pressures are still at play," Menut said.