Euro zone business growth at 9-month high - PMI

STORY: Hopes rose Tuesday (February 21) that the euro zone could escape a recession.

S&P Global's Purchasing Managers' Index - or PMI - showed business activity hit a nine-month high this month.

The PMI reached 52.3 in February - up from January's 50.3 and above analyst forecasts.

PMIs are seen as a good measure of overall economic health.

Anything above the 50 mark indicates growth, while below that represents contraction.

February's rise was driven largely by a strong services industry, where activity grew at its fastest pace since June.

The services PMI jumped to 53 from 50.8 - well above expectations.

The business expectations index also rose to a nine-month high as the fear of recession fell back.

There was one key sore spot, though.

Factory activity fell at a slightly sharper pace in February, dropping to 48.5.

European powerhouse Germany returned to growth for the first time in eight months.

That was thanks to easing supply bottlenecks and better underlying demand.

France also moved back to growth for the first time since October.

Outside the bloc, British businesses also reported a surprise bounce in activity this month.

The country's PMI jumped to 53 from January's 48.5 - again, above analyst forecasts.

As in the euro zone, the services sector drove the improved reading.