BRUSSELS, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Research firm Markit Economics confirmed Thursday manufacturing in the eurozone expanded in July as a key index posted its highest level in two years.
The currency region's purchasing managers index for manufacturing in a final estimate reached 50.3, confirming growth suggested in a flash estimate released earlier.
The index uses 50 as a dividing line with higher numbers indicating growth and lower numbers indicating contraction.
Markit said the index rose in all of the eurozone countries with the exception of Spain where the PMI dropped to 49.8, a two-month low.
In Ireland, the PMI reached 51, a five-month high. In the Netherlands, at 50.8, the PMI is at a two-year high. In Germany, the index reached an 18-month high at 50.7. In France, the region's second largest economy after Germany, the PMI for July came to 49.7, a 17-month high.
Italy's PMI is at a 26-month high at 50.4.
The PMI in Greece showed an ongoing contraction, but the index still hit a 43-month high at 47, Markit said.
"Eurozone manufacturing made a positive start to the third quarter, with welcome signs of growth returning to the sector. The PMI rose to a two-year high, as rising export demand and stabilizing domestic markets took growth of new orders and output to rates, albeit still modest, last scaled in mid-2011," Markit Senior Economist Rob Dobson said.
"This hopefully places the sector nicely to provide a positive spur to the third quarter gross domestic product numbers and help the euro area exit recession," he said.