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ECONOMICS > Eurozone’s private sector slips in March

BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse

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Eurozone private sector activity fell more sharply than expected in March, indicating that the 17-nation single currency area slid back into recession, a key survey showed yesterday.

Manufacturing output and service sector activity experienced their worst performances in three and four months respectively this month, according to the composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) compiled by Markit research firm.

“The eurozone economy contracted at a faster rate in March, suggesting that the region has fallen back into recession, with output now having fallen in both the final quarter of last year and the first quarter of 2012,” said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.

The downturn, however, is “very mild,” with the PMI signalling a contraction of around 0.1 and 0.2 percent.
“An upturn in business confidence in the service sector provides hope that conditions may improve again later in the year,” he said.

The PMI, a survey of 4,500 manufacturing and services firms, slowed to 48.7 points in March after reaching 49.3 points in February. Any score below 50 indicates contraction.

Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a softer contraction in March with a PMI score of 49.6 points.

March/23/2012

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