BRUSSELS: Eurozone business activity was “close to stabilising” in December as more robust manufacturing production helped counterbalance a slump in the service sector caused by coronavirus lockdowns, a key survey showed Wednesday.
“The eurozone economy is faring better than expected in December,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said, reports AFP.“The data hint at the economy close to stabilising after having plunged back into a severe decline in November amid renewed Covid-19 lockdown measures.”
The firm’s closely watched PMI index rose from 45.3 points in November to 49.8 this month, close to the key 50-point level which indicates growth.
Williamson said the indicator showed the downturn in the fourth quarter “looks far less steep than the hit from the pandemic seen earlier in the year, though the picture is very mixed by sector”.
While growth in manufacturing output in the 19-member single currency quickened in December, service sector output continued to fall for a fourth successive month.
The EU looks set to roll out coronavirus vaccinations in the coming days after its medicines regulator brought forward a key meeting to next Monday.
The imminent start of inoculations has sparked hope of a return to a more normal life and fuller economic activity in 2021 -- but IHS Markit warned that the “near-term still looks very challenging” for many companies as restrictions stay in force.“Many of these containment measures look likely to remain in place for some time to come, constraining the economy as we head into the new year,” Williamson said.