Euro-Area Manufacturing Output Contracts Less Than Estimated

Euro-area manufacturing output contracted less than initially estimated in March as the currency bloc struggled to emerge from a recession.

A gauge of manufacturing in the 17-nation euro area declined to 46.8 last month from 47.9 in February, London-based Markit Economics said today. That is above an initial estimate of 46.6 on March 21. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. The euro-area index has remained below that level for 20 months.

The euro-zone economy has contracted for five consecutive quarters. That trend is forecast to continue in the first three months of this year before a return to growth in the second quarter, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. The European Central Bank cut its economic forecasts last month and now sees the economy shrinking 0.5 percent in 2013.

The economic risks are still “on the downside,” ECB President Mario Draghi said on March 7. Draghi foresees a gradual recovery later this year.

The euro was lower against the dollar ahead of euro-area unemployment data due at 11 a.m. Brussels time. The jobless rate may have climbed to a record 12 percent in February, according to the median of 31 economist estimates in a Bloomberg survey. The common currency was down 0.1 percent to $1.2837 at 10:21 a.m. in Brussels.

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