Eurozone hit by another raft of gloomy figures

Ben Southwood
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HOPE that the new year would mark a turn in the Eurozone’s economic crisis was further hit yesterday by yet another tranche of ugly numbers.

The state of the retail sector worsened further, data from Markit showed, with the currency bloc’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) slipping to 44.5 in February, from 45.9 in January. This was the 16th consecutive month with a PMI below 50 – the level which indicates no change in overall conditions

The retail gloom hit not only France, which reported a PMI of 44.3, plunging from 47.0, and Italy, whose PMI was 40.6, though this was an improvement on January’s catastrophic 37.5, but even Germany, whose index value dived from 51 to 47.6.

Business lending, the lifeblood of investment, was also clobbered going into the new year, falling for the ninth straight month in January, according to the European Central Bank. It was down by 0.9 per cent compared to the same month a year before.

But one dataset was less gloomy. The European Commission’s measure of economic sentiment climbed 1.6 points in the Eurozone, from 89.5 in January to 91.1 in February.

But the indicator still had a substantial way to go before it got close to the bloc’s long-run average of 100, the EU governing body said.