Euro zone factory activity stuck in steep downturn

Euro zone factory activity stuck in steep downturn


An index measuring output fell to 43.1 from 43.4

LONDON (Reuters) - Euro zone manufacturing activity remained mired in a deep and broad-based downturn last month, according to a survey which showed on Monday that demand kept shrinking at a pace rarely surpassed since the data was first collected in 1997.

HCOB's final euro zone manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), compiled by S&P Global, dipped to 43.4 in September from August's 43.5, matching a preliminary estimate. A reading below 50 marks a contraction in activity.

An index measuring output, which feeds into a composite PMI due on Wednesday and seen as a good gauge of economic health, fell to 43.1 from 43.4.

"The output PMI was well under 50 for the entire third quarter, so we are feeling pretty certain that the recession in manufacturing continued during this period," said Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist at Hamburg Commercial Bank.

"In the race to the bottom, France and Germany are leading the way in the September PMIs. Meanwhile, Spain and Italy are pulling through somewhat less scathed."

The new orders index did rise last month, to 39.2 from August's 39.0, but it remained firmly below the breakeven mark.

That fall in demand came despite the three-month average of prices charged by factories decreasing faster than at any point in the survey's history other than during the Great Recession in 2008/2009, added HCOB's de la Rubia.

Policymakers at the European Central Bank - who have so far failed to get inflation back to target - may welcome news of falling prices.

Last month they raised their key interest rate for a 10th consecutive time but are likely now done and will stay on hold until at least July next year, according to economists in a Reuters poll.