Eurozone manufacturing growth slows, PMI data shows

Pencil factory in Germany German manufacturing remained strong, despite a slowdown in growth

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Growth in the eurozone's manufacturing sector slowed during May, a survey has indicated, as the bloc's weaker economies continued to struggle.

The Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) for eurozone manufacturers fell to 54.6 from 58 in April. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

The manufacturing sectors in Greece and Spain contracted, while Italy and the Irish Republic slowed sharply.

France and Germany, key drivers of eurozone growth, also saw a slowdown.

In Germany, the PMI reading fell to 57.7 from April's figure of 62, but the sector remained strong.

"It's a significant slowdown but from an exceptionally high level, so some of the froth is coming off," said Markit economist Tim Moore.

However, there was more concern about the weakness seen in the so-called "periphery" economies of the eurozone.

Greece - which is struggling to implement deficit-cutting policies as part of its EU-IMF loan deal - had a PMI reading of 44.5, while Spain - which faces huge unemployment - recorded 48.2.

"The worsening growth in the periphery is particularly worrying, suggesting these countries will face increasing difficulties in reducing their deficits," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

However, there was some relief for manufacturers in the shape of recent falls in the price of oil and other commodities.

The falls meant that the rate of input cost inflation fell to a six-month low in May.

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