A fresh study has shown that there's no sign yet of a sustainable recovery of private-sector business activities in the 17-member eurozone. Companies signaled a further contraction of the bloc's economy.
The latest Markit Eurozone Composite Managers Index for April registered 46.9 points which in itself marked a slight improvement from the previous month's reading of 46.5 points. But it once again stayed well below the 50-point mark indicating growth in the region.
The widely-watched survey of some 5,000 companies thus signaled a further contraction in the single currency area's economy, with both manufacturing and services sector results appearing weak.
"The index does little to dilute suspicion that the eurozone is headed for further GDP contraction in the second quarter," IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer said in a statement.
Swelling jobless lines
Even the German economy was seen as having experienced a setback in recent weeks, with factory orders decreasing.
"The decline in Germany will also raise fears that the region's largest growth engine has moved into reverse, thereby acting as a drag on the region at the same time as particularly steep downturns exist in France, Italy and Spain," Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson said.
The survey also showed the 16th consecutive drop in employment, indicating that companies particularly in crisis-stricken southern Europe were in the process of slashing even more jobs in the months ahead. In March, eurozone unemployment reached a record 12.1 percent. And according to Chris Williamson, a new negative high is only a matter of time.
hg/hc (AFP, Reuters)