April 23 - A sharp drop in German business activity overshadowed an easing downturn in France in April, surveys showed on Tuesday, raising concerns over a further economic contraction in the euro zone. Hayley Platt reports.
46.6 is today's daily digit in Europe - Markit's gauge of business activity across the euro zone - 50 is considered growth. A surprise fall from Germany's private sector raised concerns over a further economic contraction across the region. Rob Dobson is a senior economist at Markit. SOUNDBITE: Rob Dobson, senior economist, Markit, saying (English): "We're seeing the euro zone continue to remain in contraction territory therefore the recession is ongoing. Any hopes that we would see a recovery early in the second quarter, these numbers pretty much end that hope." There was some respite for French companies. Manufacturing and services rose to 44. SOUNDBITE: Rob Dobson, senior economist, Markit "France has been very weak so far this year but these numbers do show that France is maybe coming back a little. What we've seen is a pretty sharp easing in that rate of contraction and France the second biggest economy in the euro zone. If Germany's coming into contraction territory then ok France is still pretty bad but at least it's offsetting some of that weakness." Markit said the increase should not be seen as a sign of recovery. Factories in the euro zone suffered another grueling month. And companies are also cutting jobs faster than they did last month.