The eurozone’s manufacturing sector contracted for the seventh month running in February, with the region’s factories facing some of the toughest conditions on record.
The latest survey of purchasing managers showed very slight improvement but still no signs of growth.
With new orders continuing to fall and existing work being completed it appears eurozone countries are stuck in a mild recession.
Factories cut jobs at the fastest rate in nearly two years.
“Whether the euro zone will sink back into recession in the first quarter remains highly uncertain. The periphery remains the major concern,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit which carried out the survey.
Manufacturing activity in near-bankrupt Greece shrank at the fastest pace in at least thirteen years as the country gears up for a fresh wave of cuts in return for much-needed bailout cash.
In Spain, where the government is also struggling to slash its public deficit, factories shed jobs at the fastest rate in more than two years, worsening employment prospects in a country where already more than one-in-five is out of work.
Earlier data from Germany showed the manufacturing sector barely grew last month as new orders fell for the eighth month. There was no growth in neighbouring France.
British manufacturers reported further growth in February though with a slight slowdown.
British manufacturing is still vulnerable to weakness in the eurozone, the main market for the country’s exports.