Falling March orders in eurozone but confidence higher
Falling orders kept eurozone businesses in the doldrums in March and probably signalled a mild recession although firms are more confident of the future.
Markit’s eurozone composite Purchasing Managers Index fell to 49.1 in March from 49.3 a month earlier – a figure below 50 indicates contraction.
Markit said it probably consigned the euro zone to recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP.
But business expectations for 2013 hit an eight-month high in the service sector, which accounts for the bulk of the euro zone economy.
"A slight easing in the rate of decline of the euro zone service sector was insufficient to offset the first decline in manufacturing output for three months, causing the overall economy to contract again in March," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
''The downturn is currently only very mild, however, with gross domestic product probably falling by just 0.2pc in the first quarter," said Williamson.