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Eurozone business activity slows in February: survey

[BRUSSELS] Eurozone private sector business activity slowed sharply in February, a closely watched survey said on Monday, with a warning that the economic outlook could weaken even further.

Data monitoring company Markit said the downbeat data showed stagnation in France and slumping demand in powerhouse Germany were adding to already significant deflationary pressures, which can be very damaging to the economy.

"France is flat-lining and German growth is being held back by weak global demand hitting its manufacturers," Chris Williamson, Chief Economist at Markit, said.

"Elsewhere across the region, growth slowed to the weakest since the start of last year as companies struggle in the face of waning demand both at home and abroad," he said.

Markit said its closely watched Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell to 52.7 points in February from 53.6 in January, hitting a 13-month low.

The reading was still above the 50-point boom-or-bust line, showing the 19-nation eurozone economy continued to expand, albeit at a slower pace.

According to the latest official data available, the eurozone expanded 0.3 per cent in the three months to December, unchanged from the third quarter.

"Economic growth is likely to slow below 0.3 per cent in the first quarter unless we see a sudden uplift in March," Williamson noted.


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