A survey released on Monday shows that 16 members of the Eurozone are struggling to maintain the momentum of economic growth.
In its purchasing managers' index of 4,500 Eurozone countries, the London-based economic research group Markit Economics revealed a dip from 56.7 to 56.1 points Monday, the third in four months.
Although the figures indicate a new downward turn, Markit said the reading was "consistent with a robust rate of expansion," adding that combined manufacturing and service sector output had been rising for 13 consecutive months.
ING Bank economist Martin van Vliet said that although economic recovery was slowing down, it still retained "significant forward momentum."
Eyes on the big guys
There is concern, however, that growth is restricted to the bloc's powerhouses, Germany and France.
The euro fell at news of the slowdown
Head of Markit, Chris Williamson said there was "little evidence" to suggest that "buoyant business conditions" in core economies were influencing weaker ones where austerity measures have been introduced to bring down budget deficits.
He said the greatest concern was that the upturn continued to be "all too dependent on France and Germany," while growth in the rest of the Eurozone slowed to "near stagnation" and services contracted again.
Markit's services index fell from 55.8 to 55.6 percent.
But in Germany the service sector picked up significantly, helping to secure an increase in the nation's PMI from 59.0 to 59.3 points.
A strong export demand from the main emerging economies during the first half of the year has also helped the German economy to fight back.
Last week, Germany posted the best quarterly results since reunification 20 years ago.
Author: Tamsin Walker (AFP/dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner