According to the advance estimate, which is based on 85% of the usual monthly replies, the euro zone PMI’s weakened further in March. Euro zone manufacturing PMI dropped for the first time in four months, from 49.0 to 47.7, while a further improvement to 49.5 was expected. In February, the euro zone manufacturing PMI disappointed already, posting only a marginal increase. Both in Germany (48.1 from 50.2) and France (47.6 from 50.0) the manufacturing PMI fell back into contraction. Also the reading for the services sector disappointed in March. For a second consecutive month, the euro zone services PMI dropped in March from 48.8 to 48.7, while an improvement was expected (to 49.2). In France, services PMI stabilized at 50.0, while German services PMI dropped from 52.8 to 51.8. Also the details are really disappointing. The only bright spot was service providers’ expectations for growth, which improved for a fifth consecutive month, signalling the highest degree of optimism since July last year. Both euro zone manufacturing- and services PMI dropped below the 50 benchmark level, suggesting that the euro area slipped back into a technical recession. Markit believes however that the pace of decline eased somewhat from the final quarter of 2011. A drop by 0.1-0.2% Q/Q is forecast for the first three months of the year. The outcome is clearly disappointing as we had hoped that the negative trend had turned, which is now put into doubt.
After an uptick at the end of 2011, euro zone industrial new orders fell back in January. On a monthly basis, industrial new orders dropped by 2.3% M/M, marginally weaker than the expected 2.2% M/M decline, and reversing most of the December’s 3.5% M/M increase. There we no national data available, but earlier released data showed that orders dropped sharply in both Italy and Germany. The order data suggest that activity