Investing.com - Manufacturing activity in the euro zone expanded at the slowest rate in three months in March, underlining concerns over the health of the region's economy, preliminary data showed on Monday.
In a report, market research group Markit said that its preliminary manufacturing purchasing managers' index inched down to a seasonally adjusted 53.0 this month, in line with expectations and down from a final reading of 53.2 in February.
Meanwhile, the preliminary services purchasing managers' index dipped to a seasonally adjusted 52.4 this month from a reading of 52.6 in February. Analysts had expected the index to hold steady at 52.6 in March.
On the index, a reading above 50.0 indicates industry expansion, below indicates contraction.
Commenting on the report, Chris Williamson, Chief Economist at Markit said that "The survey is signaling a 0.5% increase in GDP in the first quarter, building on the 0.3% increase seen in the final quarter of last year.:
He added, "With prices charged by manufacturers and service providers both falling again in March, there remains an argument for further stimulus, especially if the rate of growth of activity cools again in April."
Following the release of the data, the euro turned lower against the U.S. dollar, with EUR/USD shedding 0.02% to trade at 1.3791, compared to 1.3799 ahead of the data.
Meanwhile, European stock markets remained lower. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.55%, France's CAC 40 declined 0.5%, London's FTSE 100 slumped 0.2%, while Germany's DAX dropped 0.4%.
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