Private sector business activity in the eurozone contracted in February for the ninth month in a row, but at a slower pace than in January, thanks to a stabilization in services.

This is indicated in the preliminary index of supply managers PMI (PMI), published today by "Standard and Poor's Global" (S&P Global) and quoted by France Press.

The index, based on a survey of companies, came in at 48.9 from 47.9 the previous month, marking the smallest contraction since June 2023 after an improvement in January.

Any figure above 50 points indicates growth in economic activity, and below 50 indicates a decline.

"The latest data on the supply managers' index testifies to the beginning of a recovery in the euro area, especially in the services sector, which stabilized during the month," stressed Norman Liebke, an economist at the Hamburg Commercial Bank, quoted in the communiqué of "Standard & Poor's Global".

"These signs of improvement lead us to maintain our annual growth forecast of 0.8 percent for 2024."

within the bloc, which unites 20 countries with a single currency, he said, emphasizing the stability of the labor market.

"Employment data suggest some optimism among private companies in the euro area, with growth in the number of employees accelerating compared to January," Liebke said.

The main black point is the industrial situation, which has continued to deteriorate. 

The PMI survey signaled a decline in production levels and the volume of new orders received by manufacturing companies in February.

Among eurozone countries, Germany underperformed in February with a stronger decline in global private sector activity than France, where the services sector benefited from improved demand in foreign markets.

In Germany, companies in the service sector reported a decline in their export sales.

This disparity between the two leading European economies can be explained by the growth of tourism, from which France is more favored, according to the assessment of "Standard & Poor's Global".

The harmonized composite PMI for Germany fell to 46.1 in February from 47 in the previous month.

That was below the Reuters forecast for an increase to 47.5 points. 

Business activity in the manufacturing sector fell to 42.3 points in February from 45.5 points the previous month, well below analysts' forecasts for an increase to 46.1 points.

The services PMI rose to 48.2 in February from 47.7 the previous month, beating analysts' forecasts of 48 but still in contraction territory.

The harmonized composite PMI for France's dominant services sector rose to 48 from 45.6, above the forecast in a Reuters poll of 45.6, a sharp jump from January's 45.4 point.

The PMI in the manufacturing sector rose to 46.8 points, which was also above the Reuters forecast of 43.5 points and January's 43.1 points.

Composite PMI for France also rose to 47.7 points from 44.6 points in January, exceeding the Reuters forecast of 45 points

, BTA reported.

European stock markets closed mostly in the red

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