A survey of business managers by financial firm IHS Markit showed that the economy expanded in February at its fastest rate in six months as services grew and trouble in manufacturing eased. The group's PMI index, a gauge of business activity, rose to 51.6 points from 51.3 in January. The index is on a 100-point scale, with the 50-mark separating growth from contraction.
Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said the expansion "is being led by welcome resilience in the service sector but manufacturing is also showing encouraging signs of pulling out of the downturn that has plagued producers for over a year.”
New business orders remained constrained, however, amid global uncertainties that have weighed on world economic growth over the past few months — particularly trade uncertainties like Brexit and the U.S.-China tariffs wars. At the end of last year, the eurozone economy barely grew while Japan's shrank sharply and the U.S. and China slowed.
The survey also showed that the virus outbreak, which originated and largely affected China, hurt travel, tourism and delayed supplies to businesses. Williamson said the full impact of the virus outbreak is not yet clear.
“The outlook remain highly uncertain,” he said.