[BERLIN] German manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in almost a year in March as output gained momentum, a survey showed on Wednesday, pointing to a robust first quarter for one of the main sectors of Europe's largest economy.
Markit's purchasing manager's index (PMI) for manufacturing, which accounts for about one-fifth of the economy, rose to 52.8 from 51.1 in February, topping a preliminary estimate of 52.4.
It was the highest reading since April 2014 and was the fourth consecutive month above the 50 line separating growth from contraction.
New orders flowed in faster and backlogs built up, leading manufacturers to ramp up production to its strongest rate since April and continue hiring new staff.
Some companies said the weaker euro helped them to obtain new contracts from abroad, but it also pushed up import costs.
Firms also raised their prices for the first time since October.
"Manufacturing looks set to have a positive contribution to first quarter GDP, with the average PMI reading for the opening three months of the year the best since the second quarter of 2014," Markit economist Oliver Kolodseike said.