Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

Euro manufacturing 'slides again'

European worker
Eurozone manufacturing activity has been hit hard by the recession

Manufacturing activity in the eurozone fell to its lowest level in 12 years in February, according to new figures.

The purchasing managers index (PMI), compiled by research group Markit, fell from 34.4 in the previous month to 33.5 - its lowest level on record.

Rising activity in January had led some analysts to believe that the eurozone manufacturing sector had reached a turning point.

New orders fell to 28.2, also reached the lowest level on record.

'Disastrous' growth

"In January, there were signs of stabilisation and that gave some hope that the bottom had been reached.

"This casts doubt on that and suggests first quarter growth in the eurozone could be as bad as fourth quarter [2008] growth, which was disastrous," said Dominic Bryant at BNP Paribas.

Markit said the fall in PMI was consistent with falls in manufacturing output of 12%.

The figures do not bode well for overall eurozone economic output.

"Look for more weakness in GDP in the current and next quarters," said Kenneth Broux at Lloyds.

Manufacturing activity in the UK fell to 34.7, down from 35.8 in January.

Any PMI score below 50 indicates a contraction in activity.

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