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Industry

Eurozone industry still locked in recession

Manufacturing activity in the eurozone has continued to slide amid falling production and exports, the PMI index has shown. But there's hope the continent's industries may arise from signs of revival in Asia.

At the end of 2012, the eurozone remained locked in recession, which was reflected by the 17th consecutive monthly drop in the purchasing managers' index (PMI) released by British research group Markit on Wednesday.

The London-based group said the closely-watched barometer of factory activity declined to 46.1 points in December from 46.2 points in November for the 17-nation currency area. Any reading below 50 points signals declining manufacturing activity.

"The region's recession therefore looks likely to have deepened, possibly quite significantly, in the final quarter," said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.

The eurozone PMI, which is based on the responses of about 3,000 firms in the single currency area, showed that Germany was especially hit by declining factory activity as the index there posted a two-month low at 46 points.

The index also dropped in Spain, Austria and Greece, while France's industry edged up slightly, and that of Italy even jumping from 45.1 point to 46.7 points.

Asia rebounding

However, Markit's Chris Williamson added that debt-stricken eurozone factories might benefit from stronger demand in key export markets such as the United States and China in 2013.

Notably in China, economic activity picked up in the final quarter of 2012, Markit found, causing the December PMI for the country to remain at November's seven-month high of 50.6 points.

In India, Asia's third largest economy, manufacturing activity even jumped to a 54.7-point PMI reading in December, markedly up from 53.7 points in November. A similarly steep increase was reported from South Korea.

uhe/kms (Reuters, dpa)