By Jonathan Davies

Business activity in the eurozone rose to a near-four-year high in February, according to a closely watched survey.

The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) increased to 54.1 in February, up from 53.3 in January. Any figure above 50 indicates growth and 54.1 is the highest for 46 months.

Markit said the survey suggests that the eurozone economy will grow by 0.3% in the first quarter, matching the final quarter of 2014.

New orders grew at their fastest rate since 2011 and has been credited with the rising PMI score.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit said: "All the indicators are pointing to a further upturn, firms are taking on staff and it augurs well for the year ahead."