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Eurozone manufacturing slows, Ireland only bright spot

Factory orders and staffing levels are at a 13-month low in the eurozone, and manufacturing activity in the UK slowed markedly in August. Irish industry, meanwhile, expanded at its fastest rate since 1999.

Manufacturing in the eurozone slowed even more in August than an initial reading suggested. The closely-watched monthly Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) by data provider Markit showed that companies had fewer new orders and suffered from tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Prices barely increased last month, and manufacturing activity in France fell at the fastest pace in 15 months.

"France remains a real concern, as does Italy's descent from solid expansion to stagnation. Signs that growth impetus waned in the key industrial engine of Germany, and in Spain and the Netherlands too, is also less than reassuring," Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit, told the Reuters news agency.

German stagnation

In Germany, Europe's largest economy and current powerhouse, both orders and production rose at their slowest level in 12 months, according to Markit's August survey.

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Separate data from Germany's VDMA industry association showed stagnating machine tool orders in July. Domestic demand slowed markedly as the crisis in Ukraine spreads uncertainty among businesses.

The country's

second-quarter gross domestic product

fell by 0.2 percent compared with the previous quarter, official data confirmed on Monday.

UK below forecasts

It is a similar picture in Britain, where the Markit/CIPS PMI index for August showed that new orders fell to their lowest level since last April. The August data also showed the biggest one-month drop in two years.

The overall index was lower than expected, suggesting that Britain's consumers will have to drive the UK economy if the nascent recovery is to be sustained.

Ireland only bright spot

Meanwhile, Irish industry bucked the trend - manufacturing there grew at its fastest pace since 1999, according to the Investec PMI index. A surge in new orders helped boost the reading for August.

Ireland, which in December became the first bailed-out eurozone country to exit its rescue program, has seen a string of positive data, and analysts believe the economy will grow by 3 percent this year after two years of near stagnation.

ng/uhe (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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