The German economy slowed to “near stagnation” in March 2013, while France’s recorded its biggest contraction for four years, according to a Markit survey.
The Markit composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI), which measures both the manufacturing and services sectors, declined to 50.6 in Germany last month, from 53.3 in February.
Any figure above 50 indicates growth.
France’s reading fell to 41.9 points, its worst since March 2009.
For the eurozone as a whole, the index fell to 46.5 from 47.9 in February.
The Markit composite PMI, which measures both the manufacturing and services sectors, declined to 50.6 in Germany last month, from 53.3 in February
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said the latest data painted a gloomy picture.
“The [eurozone] recession is deepening once again as businesses report that they have become increasingly worried about the region’s debt crisis and political instability,” Chris Williamson said.
“The unresolved election in Italy was commonly cited as a key factor clouding the economic outlook in March, and the botched bail-out of Cyprus could well filter through to a further worsening of business sentiment across the region in April.”
Chris Williamson added that the weak showing from Germany “suggests that the only source of bright light in an otherwise gloomy region has once again begun to fade”.
Germany’s index reading was the worst in the country for three months.
US economy has added 157,000 jobs in January 2013, which was slightly below forecasts, but the number of new jobs at the end of 2012 was revised up significantly, official data has shown.
In November and December, the Labor Department’s revised figures showed that 127,000 more jobs were created than initially thought.
But the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% in January, from 7.8% in December.
In 2012, an average of 181,000 jobs a month were created, the data showed.
The news helped lift shares on Wall Street to levels not seen since before the financial crisis. In early trading the Dow Jones index rose above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007.
The unemployment rate is based on a survey of households, while the job creation figure is taken from a survey of employers.
On Wednesday, government data indicated that the US economy unexpectedly shrank at an annualized rate of 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Meanwhile, an industry survey on Friday said that the US manufacturing sector grew in January at the fastest pace for nine months.
The latest purchasing managers’ index from financial data firm Markit rose to 55.8 last month, up from 54 in December. A reading above 50 indicates growth.
US economy has added 157,000 jobs in January 2013, which was slightly below forecasts
Markit said that its latest survey “suggests the underlying health of the industrial sector continues to improve, and rising production will help the economy return to growth in the first quarter, provided there are no set-backs in coming months”.
The Labor Department said that in January, jobs were created in retail, construction, healthcare and wholesale trade, but jobs were lost in transportation and warehousing.
Employment in retail rose by 33,000, compared with an average monthly gain of 20,000 in 2012.
Employment in construction rose by 28,000. The Labor Department said that the industry had created 296,000 jobs since falling to a low in January 2011, but added that the current level of employment was still some two million below its previous peak in April 2006.
Healthcare added 23,000 jobs in January, while wholesale trade added 15,000.
There was little change in manufacturing employment, which has been essentially flat since July 2012.
On the downside, couriers and messengers lost 19,000 jobs, after strong seasonal hiring in November and December came to an end.
Darrell Cronk, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank in New York, said: “Like most of our jobs reports, it seems like every month, there is something for everybody in this one – there are positives and negatives.
“It was certainly below expectations and a slight negative that we saw a tick up in the unemployment rate from 7.8% to 7.9%, especially with the labour force participation rate staying where it is, which suggests there aren’t a vast influx of those unemployed/underemployed coming back being job seekers. That was disappointing.”
A new survey suggests that business activity in the eurozone contracted at its fastest pace in almost three-and-a-half years in October.
The Markit Flash Eurozone Purchasing Managers’ (PMI) Composite Output Index fell to 45.8, from 46.1 in September. A figure below 50 indicates contraction.
The reading is consistent with a quarterly rate of economic contraction in the bloc of 0.5%, Markit said.
Firms also continued to cut employment, but at a slightly slower rate.
The figures represent an initial estimate based on 85% of the normal number of monthly responses, and so are likely to be revised slightly.
Earlier, PMI figures collected by HSBC bank showed that manufacturing activity in China in October slowed at a slower pace than in previous months. The country’s PMI hit 49.1, up from 47.9 in September and the highest level in three months.
The rate of decline in the services sector eased in the eurozone, to 46.2 from 46.1 in September, but in manufacturing the rate accelerated, to 45.3 from 46.1.
Despite the easing in services, optimism in the sector deteriorated, suggesting employment would be cut further, Markit said.
Europe’s industrial powerhouse, Germany, saw output contract faster, with car exports particularly weak. France, the eurozone’s second largest economy, saw a “steep contraction” in overall business activity.
“The eurozone has slid further into decline at the start of the fourth quarter,” said Markit’s chief economist Chris Williamson.
“Official data have showed surprising resilience over the summer compared to the survey data, but the underlying business climate has clearly deteriorated markedly in recent months.
“While GDP may decline only modestly in the third quarter, a steeper fall looks to be on the cards for the fourth quarter.”
The eurozone economy contracted by 0.2% between April and June, having recorded no growth in the first quarter.
Many economists expect official figures, released in the middle of November, to show a further contraction between July and September, pushing the bloc back into recession.
“October’s decline in the eurozone composite PMI is an unpleasant surprise and reinforces concern that the economic downturn in the region may be deepening and widening,” said Martin van Vliet at ING.
Eurozone economies are struggling as governments focus on reducing debt levels following the financial crisis by cutting spending and increasing taxes, measures that are undermining growth.