Germany's private sector grew in March at its strongest rate since July, a survey showed today, in a further sign that Europe's largest economy is gaining pace. 

Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which tracks manufacturing and services activity accounting for more than two-thirds of the economy, jumped to a eight-month high of 55.3 from 53.8 in February. 

That was comfortably above the 50 mark dividing growth from contraction for a 23nd consecutive month. 

"It looks like the German economy is entering the economic fast lane again," Markit said in a statement, noting stronger domestic and foreign demand. 

The German manufacturing index surged to an eight-month high of 52.4 from 51.1 in February, overshooting a Reuters poll consensus of 51.5.

The services index hit a a six-month high of 55.3, from 54.7 in February, beating a 55 forecast. 

"It's a fairly healthy looking upturn," Markit economist Chris Williamson said, predicting the German economy will grow 0.4% in the first quarter and around 2% in 2015. 

Berlin's DIW economics institute now predicts 2.2% growth in 2015 and the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has raised its outlook to 1.9%.

The German government expected 1.5%, after growth of 1.6% last year.