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European Markets Close Higher After Manufacturing Activity Picks Up in Eurozone

European markets closed higher on Tuesday after fresh data showed that the growth rate of the eurozone economy continued to improve in March.

At 54.0, up from 53.3 in February, the final Markit Eurozone Purchasing Managers' Index Composite Output Index rose to an 11-month high and its joint-highest level for almost four years.

The average index reading over the opening quarter as a whole (53.3) signals the best output growth since Q2 of last year. Manufacturing production rose at the fastest pace since May 2014, while service sector activity increased at the sharpest rate for eight months.

Markets were further helped after a statement published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that managing director Christine Lagarde met with Yanis Varoufakis, Minister of Finance for Greece, for an informal discussion on the Greek government's reform program on Sunday.

According to the IMF Chief, Varoufakis confirmed that payment owing to the Fund would be forthcoming on April 9.

Meanwhile, lower-than-expected jobs data in the US caused speculation among investors that the Federal Reserve may wait longer before raising the benchmark interest rate. In March, the unemployment rate held at 5.5%, and the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 8.6 million.

Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.1 percentage points and 1.8 million, respectively.

In company news, TNT Express NV, the Netherlands-based express delivery company, surged 29.4% on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange after announcing that it and FedEx ( FDX ) had reached a conditional agreement on a recommended all-cash offer for all issued and outstanding ordinary shares in a transaction valuing TNT Express at an implied equity value of approximately 4.4 billion euros ($4.8 billion).

Other postal companies also gained with London-listed Royal Mail jumping 1.3% while Frankfurt-listed Deutche Post gained 2.3%.

The FTSE 100 rose 1.88%, the CAC-40 gained 1.52% and the DAX added 1.3%.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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