Eurozone business growth slows as virus rise crimps demand

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 21 2020 05:37 PM

BRUSSELS - Eurozone economic activity slowed in August as a new rise in cases of the coronavirus in parts of Europe blunted a recovery, IHS Markit said Friday.

The firm's closely-watched PMI index fell to 51.6 points from 54.9 points in July but was still above the key 50 points level which indicates growth.

"The eurozone’s rebound lost momentum in August, highlighting the inherent demand weakness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Andrew Harker, economics director at IHS Markit.

"The recovery was undermined by signs of rising virus cases in various parts of the euro area, with renewed restrictions impacting the service sector in particular," he added.

The data provider said that Germany, the eurozone's biggest economy, was largely unaffected by the slowdown with business confidence its strongest in two years.

France, however, failed to replicate the strong rebound of the previous month with only a modest rise in new orders for companies.

The rest of the eurozone -- which includes Spain and Italy -- were marginally in contraction territory, IHS Markit said, noting that staff were being cut across the continent.

Harker said the eurozone was at a "crossroads".

Growth will either "pick back up in coming months or continue to falter following the initial post-lockdown rebound."

This would depend on how successfully a second wave of the virus can be suppressed and whether Europeans will have the confidence to recharge the economy, he said.

© Agence France-Presse