The decline in manufacturing activity moderated slightly in November and business confidence is at a three-month high. Yet experts say improvement is still a long way off.
The Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 44.2% in November, the highest in a sixth month, and up from 43.1% in October, according to data from Hamburg Commercial Bank (HCOB) and index provider S&P Global. ,
The PMI numbers, which are based on survey responses from nearly 3,000 private sector companies based in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland and Greece, look at indicators that measure the health of the manufacturing sector – particularly From: new orders, output, employment, suppliers’ delivery times, and stocks and purchases.
Readings below 50 indicate economic contraction, while numbers above 50 indicate expansion.
“November has not been the prettiest,” Dr. Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist at Hamburg Commercial Bank, said in response to the data.
He said: “Production is still on the decline, and companies have cut their workforce for the sixth consecutive month. Certainly, almost all sub-indices have increased slightly. However, the reforms have been mostly timid, lacking the necessary momentum to declare an upward trend.”
New orders coming to companies in the eurozone were declining at a slower pace in November, although demand still remains weak.
Many companies blame geopolitical and economic uncertainty for the lack of demand.
This phenomenon was also observed at the national level in Germany, France, Italy and Spain, although to varying degrees.
Eurozone output was still falling significantly in November but at a slower rate than in previous months.
The Eurozone manufacturing PMI output index came in at 44.6%, the highest level in a sixth month and up from 43.1% in November.
That said, the picture is slightly different when we look at the top four economies of the eurozone.
Among Germany, France, Italy and Spain, Germany is the only country where the decline in output is slowing.
There are also national differences in terms of output charges, meaning the price of finished products sold by firms.
In the eurozone, output charges have been falling since May as lower costs are enabling businesses to offer more competitive prices to their customers.
The situation is similar in Italy, although production prices are rising in France and Germany.
As demand for goods is falling, so are employment levels in the eurozone, falling at the fastest rate since the peak of the Covid pandemic in August 2020.
In France, marginal employment growth continued at service companies, but manufacturing companies cut headcount at the most dramatic rate since May 2020.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that low staffing capacity was partly a reflection of non-renewal of temporary contracts.
In Italy, manufacturers are shedding jobs at the fastest rate in 3 years, and HCOB and S&P have warned of a “critical shortage of skilled workers.”
Germany also did not escape falling employment levels, although job losses in November were relatively modest.
Who is in contractions?
Six of the eight countries included in the Eurozone manufacturing PMI are in economic decline.
Austria was the worst-off in November, followed by Germany and France.
That said, the manufacturing slowdown in these countries is nevertheless slow, which is not the case in Italy.
Only Greece and Ireland managed to grow their economies in November, with the former’s growth rate reaching a three-month high.
Ireland’s economy managed to stabilize after a sustained recession.