|Data points to improving health in euro zone
Another round of euro zone economic data provided compelling evidence that the currency bloc's recovery from recession has become broad-based and self-sustaining.
Particularly encouraging was the news that retail sales across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro increased by 0.7 percent in August, according to Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, AP reports.
That added to the previous month's 0.5 percent increase _ itself revised higher _ and was above market expectations for a more modest 0.2 percent increase.
Retail sales are an important barometer of economic confidence as they show that consumers are spending.
The figures came on the heels of a survey finding economic output across the euro zone rose in September at its fastest pace since the summer of 2011.
Financial information company Markit said its composite purchasing managers index _ a broad gauge of business activity across the manufacturing and services sectors _ rose to a 27-month high of 52.2 points in September. The increase from 51.5 in August takes the index further above the 50 threshold that indicates expansion.
Today's surveys are the latest in a string of indicators to suggest the euro zone economic recovery is gathering momentum. Earlier this week, Eurostat figures showed the number of unemployed fell for the third consecutive month in August, though the rate held steady.
In the second quarter, the euro zone economy grew by a quarterly rate of 0.3 percent, following a run of six straight quarterly declines, which marked the longest recession since the euro was launched in 1999.