The slowdown in euro zone factory activity deepened in December as new orders tumbled, a business survey showed on Wednesday, suggesting the economy may have slipped further into recession in the last quarter of 2012.
Manufacturers helped lift the 17-nation bloc out of the last recession, but purchasing managers’ surveys showed Ireland was the only member of the currency union to register growth in December as the malaise sank its roots further into the bloc’s core economies.
“The euro zone manufacturing sector remained entrenched in a steep downturn at the end of the year. The region’s recession therefore looks likely to have deepened, possibly quite significantly, in the final quarter,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
Markit’s Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) edged down to 46.1 in December from November’s 46.2. The final December figure was down from an earlier reported flash reading of 46.3. The index has been below the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction since August 2011.
The output index fell to 46.0 from November’s 46.1 and as the decline continued, factories cut their workforces at a faster pace than in the previous month.
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