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Eurozone Private Sector Growth At 2-month Low

Eurozone private sector expanded at the slowest pace in two months in March amid a deepening downturn in manufacturing, defying expectations for a modest improvement, flash data from IHS Markit's purchasing managers' survey showed on Friday.

The flash Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers' Index rose to a two-month low of 51.3 from 51.9 in February. Economists had forecast a score of 52.

A score above 50 suggest growth in the sector, while a reading lower than 50 indicates contraction.

The manufacturing PMI dropped to a 71-month low of 47.7 from 49.4 in February. Economists were looking for a score of 49.5.

The services PMI hit a two-month low of 52.7 from 52.8 in February. The reading was in line with economists' expectations.

New order growth stagnated for a second successive month and the reduction in backlogs was the largest since November 2014, suggesting excess capacity developing in the economy.

Consequently, employment growth slowed to the joint-weakest since September 2016.

Exports fell for a sixth month running, and at the steepest rate since comparable data for total exports were first available in September 2014.

"The survey indicates that GDP likely rose by a modest 0.2% in the opening quarter, with a decline in manufacturing output in the region of 0.5 percent being offset by an expansion of service sector output of approximately 0.3 percent," IHS Markit Chief Business Economist Chris Williamson said.

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