Euro zone business expanded for the first time in 18 months in July, albeit very slightly, according to a survey on Monday that suggested the economy is slowly starting to stabilize.
Markit's Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 50.5 last month from 48.7 in June, breaking above the 50 threshold indicating growth for the first time since January 2012. The headline figure was revised up a tick from a preliminary reading of 50.4.
The survey gauges how thousands of euro zone companies fare every month. Although new orders fell again in July, the rate of decline was the weakest since August 2011.
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Overall, the survey suggested the economy is starting to exit recession - even if healthy growth still looks like a distant prospect.
"Granted, the euro area has experienced false dawns before, but the improvements in confidence and other forward-looking indicators warrant at least some optimism for the outlook this time around," said Rob Dobson, senior economist at PMI compiler Markit.