Eurozone private sector activity bounced back in January after four months of contraction, a key survey showed Friday, with notable increases in the two biggest economies, Germany and France.
The composite purchasing managers' index (PMI) for services and industry compiled by the research firm Markit jumped to 50.4 points from 48.3 points in December.
Any score in the survey of 4,500 manufacturing and services firms above 50 points indicates growth, while a score below indicates contraction.
In the bloc's top economy, Germany, the composite score reached a seven-month high of 53.9 points, while number two France posted a five-month high of 51.2, better than originally estimated.
Markit chief economist Chris Williamson forecast that "a more definitive return to growth is possible in February."
He added: "Anecdotal evidence from survey respondents indicates that much of the improvement appears to be based on business and consumer confidence reviving."
Williamson said that resulted from "the belief that the worst of the region's debt problems are behind us and that a new credit squeeze may be averted."
Although a breakdown of the data showed a slight decline in manufacturing activity, that was more than compensated for by gains in the eurozone's key services sector.
The eurozone is believed to have fallen into recession late last year, but Berenberg Bank senior economist Christian Schulz said: "With confidence returning at increasing pace and the financial crisis showing signs of easing, the recession can remain mild."