Surprising improvement in key European economic survey eases market concerns over slowdown

Economic Indicators Associated Press

A stronger than anticipated European economic survey has raised hopes in the markets that the recent slowdown may be coming to an end.

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Financial information company Markit says Thursday that its composite purchasing managers' index for the 18-country eurozone — a broad gauge of business activity — rose to 52.2 points in October from 52.0 in September. Anything above 50 indicates expansion.

The rise was unexpected, with most analysts anticipating a modest decline. The increase helped stocks across Europe rally, with the Stoxx 50 index of leading European shares up 0.8 percent.

Over recent weeks, fears that the eurozone may be heading back into recession have weighed on markets.

Despite the increase, the survey highlighted a divergence across the region. Notably, it shows the French economy continues to struggle.