Germany's private sector grew for the fifth month running in September, a survey showed today, suggesting Europe's largest economy expanded solidly in the third quarter.
Markit's final composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which tracks growth in both the manufacturing and services sector, eased to 53.2 in September from a preliminary reading of 53.8 and from August's 53.5.
But it stayed above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.
The index, which covers more than two-thirds of the economy, slipped back from the seven-month high hit in August due to a weaker contribution from manufacturing.
Another PMI survey earlier this week showed the manufacturing sector grew at a slower pace last month than previously thought.
"Germany's private sector saw a solid improvement in business conditions during September," Markit said.
New business and staffing levels across the private sector increased although backlogs of work contracted slightly.
Germany's economy, which steamed ahead during the early years of the euro zone crisis, weakened last year but bounced back in the second quarter of 2013. Economists generally expect slower but solid growth in the July-September period.
"Service providers finished the third quarter on an especially positive note, and the recent upturn in new business wins will underpin hopes for a reasonably strong end to 2013 for the service economy," Markit said.
Growth in new business helped the index for the services sector rise to 53.7, its highest level since February, leading to the fastest rate of job creation in almost a year and a half.
Cost burdens for service providers, which have been rising for four years, edged up for another month. Companies commented on the need to absorb some of these increases rather than pass them on due to subdued demand.
Across the private sector as a whole, input price inflation hit a nine-month high, despite lower manufacturing costs, while output charges were broadly unchanged compared with August.
Business expectations in the services sector rose for the 10th consecutive month, the PMI survey showed.
The mood in the German economy more generally has brightened recently. Business morale improved to its highest level in 17 months in September, while consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in six years.