Euro Rises As Eurozone Private Sector Growth Hits 6-Year High

The euro strengthened against the other major currencies in the European session on Thursday, after data showed that the Eurozone private sector expanded at the fastest pace in six years in April.

Data from IHS Markit showed that the final composite output index rose to 56.8 in April from 56.4 in March. This was also slightly higher than the flash estimate of 56.7. Activity has expanded for 46 months in a row.

The services Purchasing Managers’ Index improved to 56.4 in April from 56.0 in March. The flash reading was 56.2.

Also, the rate of growth in Germany’s total activity was little changed from March’s recent peak. The final composite PMI came in at 56.7, down from 57.1 in March. But the reading was above the flash estimate of 56.3. The services PMI dropped less than estimated to 55.4 from 55.6 in March. The initial score was 54.7.

Elsewhere, in France, the composite PMI fell to 56.6 in April from 56.8 a month ago and also stayed below the initial estimate of 57.4. The services PMI slid to 56.7 from 57.5. The flash estimate was 57.7.

In other economic news, data from Eurostat showed that Eurozone retail trade grew at a slower pace in March on weak clothing sales. Retail sales climbed 0.3 percent month-on-month in March, slower than the 0.5 percent increase seen in February. However, sales were expected to remain flat in March.

On a yearly basis, retail sales growth accelerated to 2.3 percent in March from 1.7 percent in February. Economists had forecast a moderate 2.1 percent expansion.

Meanwhile, European stocks traded higher as investors appeared to have taken the Federal Reserve’s hawkish policy statement in their stride and looked ahead to a vote on the newest version of the Republican’s health care bill later today that will replace Obamacare.

While leaving interest rates unchanged, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday downplayed recent weak economic growth and suggested that the near-term risks to the economic outlook are roughly balanced.

In the Asian trading…

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