Published December 05, 2012
LONDON – The euro zone's economic slump was a little less pronounced in November than previously thought, although the region still looks on course for another quarter of recession, a business survey showed on Wednesday.
Markit's Eurozone Composite PMI, which gauges business activity across thousands of companies, rose in November to 46.5 from 45.7 in October - markedly higher than the preliminary reading of 45.8 reported 10 days ago.
Still, there was little sign the PMI will rise above the 50 mark that divides growth and contraction anytime soon, having lingered below it for all but one of the last 15 months.
Survey compiler Markit said there was no single reason for the upward revision to the PMI, which could simply be down to a stronger end to the month for businesses.
France, Spain and Italy were the biggest drags on the euro zone economy through last month.
Overall, however, the survey still pointed to a deepening recession this quarter, following the economy's 0.1 percent decline in the third quarter.
"There are signs that the recession may have reached a nadir, however, at least in terms of the rate of decline," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
"Despite the easing in the rate of decline, the region sill looks set for further contraction in the early months of 2013, as weak consumer demand in many countries combines with low levels of business confidence and falling global trade."
Monday's manufacturing PMIs told a similar story.
The composite new orders index saw a sharp upwards revision to 45.0 from 44.1 in the preliminary data. That still shows company order books are declining at a fast rate, however.
Service sector businesses like banks, hotels and restaurants that account for the vast bulk of the euro zone's private economy, also saw activity decline at the slowest rate in three months.
The final services PMI was revised up a full point from the flash reading, to 46.7 and compared with October's 46.0.
Prices charged for products fell again in November, at a similar rate to the previous month, giving further weight to the view that inflation would pose little impediment to the European Central Bank if it wanted to further ease monetary policy.
The ECB meets on Thursday to set monetary policy. While only a handful of economists polled by Reuters think it will cut interest rates at the meeting, overall they are split on whether the ECB will do so early next year.
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(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by Hugh Lawson)