BERLIN (Reuters) - Sentiment in the euro zone improved strongly in February for the fourth straight month as investors were heartened by the European Central Bank's bond-buying program announcement which pushed up the expectations component to a nine-year high.
The Sentix research group's index tracking moral among investors and analysts in the euro zone rose to +12.4 in February from +0.9 in the previous month, above a consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of +3.0.
A sub-index of expectations for the next six months improved even more dramatically, jumping to +27.5 points in February, a nine-year high, from +13.5 in January.
"The main driver of was probably the firm announcement about "quantitative easing" by the ECB," said Sentix in a statement.
The ECB's program is designed to pump hundreds of billions of euros into the sagging euro zone economy.
Sentix added that other positive factors included the weak euro and low oil prices which have bolstered investor confidence.
"It is a sign that the economic momentum in the euro zone is really improving," said Sentix.
It added, however, that sentiment could be hit hard if there were a deterioration in Greece, where a new government wants to end austerity policies forced on it by an international bailout program, and in the Ukraine crisis.
A sub-index of the current economic situation improved to -1.8 in February from -11.0 An index tracking Germany, Europe's biggest economy, rose to an all time high of +35.0 from +26.6 last month.
Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Michael Nienaber; Editing by Caroline Copley