[LONDON] Eurozone business growth remained tepid last month, with the European Central Bank's massive stimulus programme having little apparent impact on economic activity or price pressures, a survey showed on Wednesday.
Compiler Markit said the surveys pointed to quarterly economic growth of around 0.4 percent, in line with the forecast in a Reuters poll published in October.
Markit's final October Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) came in at 53.9, weaker than an earlier estimate of 54.0 but above September's four-month low of 53.6. The index has been above the 50 mark denoting expansion since July 2013. "The final PMI data confirm the steady but still somewhat lacklustre economic growth recorded in the euro area at the start of the fourth quarter," said Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist.
The ECB has injected 60 billion euros a month of new money through its bond-buying programme since March to support growth and inflation in the 19-country currency area and has hinted it may beef up the programme at its next meeting in December.
Worryingly for ECB policymakers, who target an inflation rate of just below 2 per cent, the survey showed firms returned to price cutting last month. The composite output price index fell to 49.6 from September's 50.0.
Prices in the eurozone were flat year-on-year in October, an official first estimate showed on Friday, maintaining pressure on the ECB to further loosen monetary policy.
Economists polled by Reuters last week said it was highly likely the ECB will ease again in December, increasing or extending its stimulus programme and further cutting the deposit rate, already in negative territory.
A PMI for the dominant service industry also rose, reaching 54.1 compared to September's seven-month low of 53.7. That was however lower than a flash estimate of 54.2.
In one bright spot, suggesting firms were expecting a pick up in activity they did increase headcount last month at a faster rate than in September. The employment index rose to 52.3 from 51.2.
Detailed PMI data are only available under licence from Markit and customers need to apply to Markit for a licence.