European manufacturing ebbs further in March

Tue Apr 2, 2013 7:42am EDT
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By Andy Bruce

LONDON (Reuters) - Manufacturing across Europe's major economies endured another month of mostly deep decline in March, dragging down even former bright spots, surveys showed on Tuesday.

The slump among British manufacturers eased slightly, but overall purchasing managers indexes (PMIs) made gloomy reading.

Factories in Germany and Ireland, the relative stars of February's PMIs, fell back into decline last month. Everywhere else, the industrial rot extended.

Spanish manufacturing declined at its fastest pace since October, which followed news the government will revise its economic forecasts for 2013 to show a 1 percent contraction, from a 0.5 percent decline previously.

In France, factory activity retreated for a 13th month and car registrations there dived 16.4 percent in March, further underlining the malaise sweeping through the euro zone's second-biggest economy.

"The euro zone's March manufacturing PMIs ... (banishes) the recovery scenario projected by the European Central Bank further beyond the realm of likely probabilities," said Lena Komileva from G+ Economics in London.

Markit's Eurozone Manufacturing PMI fell in March to 46.8 from 47.9 in February - slightly better than an preliminary estimate of 46.6, but extending its run below the 50 mark that separates growth and contraction for a 20th month.

"Based on the experience of the past four years, the first quarter's Eurozone PMI average of 47.5 is consistent with no GDP growth (at best) and a weakening momentum into the second quarter."   Continued...

Employees stand in front of a new car at the Maserati new opening plant in Turin, January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini