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Euro-Area February Manufacturing Output Contracts for 19th Month

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March 1 (Bloomberg) -- Euro-area manufacturing output contracted for a 19th straight month in February as the currency bloc struggled to emerge from a recession.

A gauge of manufacturing in the 17-nation euro area held at 47.9, London-based Markit Economics said today. That’s above an initial estimate of 47.8 on Feb. 21. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

The euro-area recession deepened in the fourth quarter, as the economy recorded its worst performance in four years with a contraction of 0.6 percent. Gross domestic product will decline again in the first three months before returning to growth in the second quarter, according to the median of 21 economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest carmaker, is preparing for a drop in first-quarter earnings as the region’s auto market enters its sixth year of declines. Profit in the first three months “will be clearly below” the first quarter of 2012, according to Chief Financial Officer Hans Dieter Poetsch.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Henry in Brussels at phenry8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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