BRUSSELS: Eurozone private sector business activity ticked up in March after a sharp fall in February, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday, but the outlook remains clouded.
Data monitoring company Markit said its March Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) inched up to 53.1 points from a revised 53 points in February.
The PMI measures companies’ readiness to spend on their business and so gives a good idea of how the underlying economy is doing.
The March figure was initially given as 53.7 points but revised down largely because of fresh weakness in the struggling French and Italian economies, Markit said in a statement.
The reading was however still above the 50-point boom-or-bust line, showing the 19-nation eurozone continued to expand at a modest pace but well short of what was expected after the European Central Bank launched a massive stimulus program early last year.
“The extent of the acceleration was negligible,” Markit said in a statement,
Chris Williamson, Markit chief economist, said “the eurozone economy failed to show any significant gain in momentum in March.”
Based on Tuesday’s figures, the economy would have grown about 0.3 percent in the three months to March, unchanged from the third and fourth quarters of 2015, he said.
“Sluggish growth is the result of lackluster demand, accompanied by falling prices as firms compete at the expense of profit margins,” Williamson said.
“Hopes are pinned on the economy being rejuvenated by the ECB’s more assertive policy initiatives,” he added.
Last month, the ECB adopted even more drastic measures in an effort to get the economy back on track at the same time as it cut its eurozone growth forecasts for 2016 and 2017 to 1.4 percent and 1.7 percent, from the previous 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.