German private sector expands in April as orders flow in: PMI

BERLIN (Reuters) - Activity in Germany's private sector grew for the 12th straight month in April as new orders flowed in, a survey showed on Tuesday, suggesting Europe's largest economy began the second quarter on a solid footing.

Markit's final composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which tracks growth in the manufacturing and services sectors, stood at 56.1 in April, well above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

That was marginally weaker than the April flash estimate of 56.3 and compared with March's final reading of 54.3.

A sub-index measuring activity in the services sector jumped to 54.7 in April, up from a five-month low of 53.0 in March, with broad-based growth across all monitored service industries.

"April data signaled a continuation of the economic upturn in Germany's service sector, with output growth accelerating since the previous month and above the average for the first quarter," said Oliver Kolodseike, an economist at Markit.

Service providers took on new staff as their workloads rose, though the rate of hiring slowed compared with March.

"The rise in private sector employment should feed through to improved job security and provide a pillar of support to services demand from private consumption," Kolodseike said.

Firms in the service sector became more upbeat about their future prospects, helped by an improved global economic environment and higher order levels, with business expectations climbing for the 17th straight month.

Input prices rose more strongly than output prices as some firms cut their prices to increase demand.

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(Reporting by Christopher Alessi; Editing by Hugh Lawson)