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The latest set of manufacturing data out of the Eurozone confirms a poor end to a bad year for manufacturers on the continent.
The final December Manufacturing PMI read at 46.3, an upward revision on the initial 45.9 estimate provided by IHS Markit, who are the compilers of the report. Indeed, the 46.3 is a welcome upgrade.
However, the best on expectations does little to alter the broader picture: manufacturing in the Eurozone remains in the grip of a recession, with little to suggest a turnaround is likely anytime soon.
According to the survey, Germany was again the weakest-performing country, with German PMI dipping to 43.7, from 44.1 in the month before, a bit higher than the initial estimate, 43.1. The deteriorations seen in Italy and the Netherlands were the sharpest in over six-and-a-half years.
Growth was sustained to a solid degree in Greece, whilst a marginal gain was seen in France.
"Aggregating this information to the EZ as a whole doesn’t look pretty," says Claus Vistesen, Chief Eurozone Economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. "New orders and output are still falling, and while the rate of contraction—in new orders—has eased a tad, the overall picture is grim."
Vistesen says data shows work backlogs were further reduced and inventory accumulation slowed at the end of Q4, which in turn, pushed the rate of job losses up to its fastest pace since 2013.
"Looking ahead, we are optimistic that the Q4 data as a whole provide the first small piece of evidence that the pace of decline is easing, but we are not expecting much in the way of a rebound in H1 2020," says Vistesen.