- Manufacturing activity in Germany expanded at the slowest rate in four months in March, dampening optimism over the health of the euro zone’s largest economy, preliminary data showed on Monday.

In a report, market research group Markit said that its preliminary German manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to a seasonally adjusted 53.8 in March from a final reading of 54.8 in February. Analysts had expected the index to inch down to 54.6 this month.

Meanwhile, the preliminary services purchasing managers’ index declined to a seasonally adjusted 54.0 in March from a reading of 55.9 in February. Analysts had expected the index to ease down to 55.5 this month.

A reading above 50.0 on the index indicates industry expansion, below indicates contraction.

Commenting on the report, Ollver Kolodselke, Economist at Markit said, “The survey suggests we should expect another quarter of economic growth in Germany, with recent data pointing to GDP growth of up to 0.7% in the first quarter.”

Following the release of the data, the euro trimmed gains against the U.S. dollar, with EUR/USD rising 0.04% to trade at 1.3799, compared to 1.3818 ahead of the data.

Meanwhile, European stock markets were lower after the open. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.55%, France’s CAC 40 declined 0.45%, London’s FTSE 100 slumped 0.25%, while Germany''s DAX dropped 0.3%.

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