Eurozone downturn 'eased in January'

6 February 2013

The downturn of the wider eurozone economy eased last month, according to the latest Markit Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI).

Although January's index reading for the zone was 48.2, meaning the economy shrank, the rate of decline eased for the third month in a row, having been 47.8 in December 2012.

The manufacturing production and service sectors showed the greatest resilience, with both seeing the slowest declines since last March.

Inflows of new orders also held up better than they had for some time, with their reduction occurring at the slowest pace since February 2012.

However, the fortunes of different member states showed a wider variation than has ever been seen before.

While Germany saw its highest growth levels in 18 months, there were marked declines in Italy, Spain and France, with the latter seeing its worst fall since March 2009.

Germany's reading was 54.4, one of only two in positive territory along with Ireland, whose 54.9 reading was a further indication that the country may be emerging from a deep crisis.

By Tony Aynsley

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