Investing.com - Private sector activity in the euro zone eased in February, according to data released on Thursday, but output growth remained close to the previous month’s two-and-a-half year highs.
A modest pickup in euro zone service sector activity was offset by an easing the rate of manufacturing output. However, manufacturing activity continued to outperform services activity, due in large part to strong export demand from outside the euro area.
The Markit euro zone composite output purchasing managers’ index ticked down to a two month low of 52.7 this month, but remained close to January’s 31-month high of 52.9.
The euro zone’s manufacturing PMI fell to a two-month low of 53.0 from 54.0 in January, compared to expectations for an unchanged reading.
The region’s services PMI ticked up to 51.7 from 51.6 in January, slightly below expectations for a rise to 51.9.
Germany’s composite output index rose to a 32-month high of 56.1, indicating that the recovery in the euro zone’s largest economy is looking more sustainable.
The German manufacturing PMI slowed to 54.7 from 56.5 in January, compared to expectations for a reading of 56.3. The country’s services PMI rose to 55.4 this month from 53.1 in January, ahead of forecasts for 53.4.
Meanwhile, France’s composite output index fell to a two-month low of 47.6 in February, as service sector activity declined at the fastest rate in nine months. The weak data fuelled fears that the French economy could contract in the first quarter.
“A dip in the euro zone PMI provides a reminder that the region’s recovery continues to be uneven and fragile,” Chris Williamson, Chief Economist at Markit said.
"The big picture is one of a region that is recovering. It is not a spectacular recovery, but it is certainly moving in the right direction with a couple of exceptions - notably France," he added.
“Looking at the latest two months as a whole, the PMI suggests the region is on course to see GDP expand by up to 0.5% in the first quarter, which would be the strongest growth for three years.“
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