Brussels: Manufacturing activity in the 16-nation eurozone expanded in October for the first time since May 2008, a widely-watched index released on Monday showed.
The Eurozone`s purchasing managers` index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector, published by data and research group Markit, rose to 50.7 points in October, up from 49.3 points in August.
It was the first time the reading has been above the symbolic 50.0 boom-or-bust line and marks its highest level since April 2008 when it also stood at 50.7.
Output also increased for the third month running in October, rising by slightly less than an earlier flash estimate but indicating the fastest monthly expansion since January 2008.
Meanwhile, new orders for eurozone manufacturing output posted a largest monthly rise since August 2007 -- with growth in France and Germany hitting 35- and 26-month highs respectively, Markit said.
Only Greece, Ireland and Spain saw lower levels of new orders.
"Business conditions in the Eurozone manufacturing sector improved for the first time since May of last year, driven by accelerating growth of output and new orders and moderating job losses," said Markit`s Chris Williamson.
However, uneven results across the bloc were causing concern. "In particular, surging nine-year high growth in France sits uncomfortably with ongoing weakness in Italy and Spain," Williamson added.
"The return to expansion in overall manufacturing activity in October indicated by the PMI supports hopes that the eurozone economy is picking up further in the fourth quarter after a seemingly certain return to growth in the third quarter," commented IHS Global Insight chief economist Howard Archer.
The eurozone economy shrank by an upwardly-revised 0.2 percent in the second quarter and 2.5 percent in the first quarter.