Euro zone business growth lost a little momentum last month despite companies cutting prices again, but they also took on workers at the fastest rate in four years, a survey showed on Wednesday.
The deceleration in growth will be disappointing for the European Central Bank, coming just a few months after it embarked on a trillion-euro quantitative easing programme to try and drive growth and fuel inflation.
Markit's final composite Purchasing Managers' Index, seen as a good guide to growth, stood at 53.6 in May, above an earlier flash reading of 53.4 but below April's 53.9. A reading above 50 implies growth.
"The euro zone recovery lost some of the wind from its sails in May, with growth of output and new orders both slowing to three-month lows," said Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist.
Firms have been cutting prices since April 2012 but did so last month at the weakest rate in nearly a year. The output price sub-index rose to 49.5 from April's 49.2. Official data on Tuesday showed prices in the bloc rose 0.3 percent last month.
With prices still falling the final PMI covering the bloc's service industry came in at 53.8, beating the flash reading of 53.3 but below April's 54.1.
To meet demand, service firms increased headcount at the fastest rate since November 2010. The employment sub-index was 52.6, up from 51.8.