[LONDON] Eurozone factory activity grew faster than previously thought in July, easing only slightly from June's 14-month record pace as rising prices kept new orders in check, business surveys showed on Monday.
July proved a fraught month for the currency union as Greece brushed with bankruptcy and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the country's survey signalled the steepest downturn in its 16-year history. French factories also slipped back into contraction.
Any signs the rest of the bloc shrugged off that turbulence will please European Central Bank policymakers and the Netherlands, Spain and Italy all enjoyed healthy growth, with the latter enjoying its strongest expansion for over four years. "Policymakers will be reassured by the robust growth rates seen in these countries and the resilience of the manufacturing sector as a whole, especially as growth is likely to pick up again now that Greece has jumped its latest hurdle in the ongoing debt crisis," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at survey compiler Markit.
Markit's final Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index was 52.4, comfortably above the 50 level that separates growth from contraction. That beat a preliminary estimate of 52.2 but was just shy of June's 52.5.
An index measuring output that feeds into a composite PMI due on Wednesday and seen as a good guide to growth held steady at June's 53.6, surpassing the preliminary 53.4 reading.
New order growth eased last month - the subindex dipped to 52.2 from 52.7 - as factories increased their prices for a second month, albeit at a weaker rate than in June.