German manufacturing woes drag down eurozone in Q1

European shares extend loss on perilous PMI yield curve ring alarming bell

Softer business activity growth reflected more subdued demand conditions in March, with new work rising at the weakest pace since April 2017.

Concerns about a slowdown in global economic growth, compounded by the trade war between the U.S. and China, caused a sell-off in equities.

That benchmark yield dropped below the yields on all maturities of T-bills for the first time in 12 years, what's called a yield-curve inversion that is often a harbinger of economic recession.

Factors such as the trade conflict between the U.S. and China, possible tariffs on the auto sector and Brexit impact global growth and weigh on new orders coming in. A no-deal exit could well have a depressive effect on Europe's major economies.

The flash PMI survey of purchasing managers showed German manufacturing contracted further in March, registering its lowest reading since June 2013 and compounding fears that unresolved trade disputes are exacerbating a slowdown.

Outside Germany and France, "the rate of output growth accelerated to its highest since last September", IHS Markit found, although all of the boost came from services firms while manufacturers "stagnated". "Employment growth slowed on the back of this as businesses see output grow at a weaker pace". "China trade and a global economic slowdown - there's little to be optimistic about".

"The protracted weakness in manufacturing remains a lingering risk, and overall growth concerns are likely to intensify should the industrial backdrop further deteriorate".

At 48.7 in March, the IHS Markit Flash France Composite Output Index plunged from 50.4 in February, flagging a renewed slump in private sector business activity.

Asian stocks closed flat, with China's Shanghai Composite Index , Japan's Nikkei , and Hong Kong's Hang Seng all within 0.2% of their opening levels.

Readings above 50 indicate expansion, while anything below 50 indicates contraction.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at HIS Markit, said the survey is consistent with the official measure of manufacturing production falling at an increased rate in March and hence acting as a drag on the economy in the first quarter.

Orders fell again in March, dashing hopes that a rise in February marked the start of a rebound.



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