After one month of marginal improvement, manufacturing conditions in the Eurozone slipped back into decline in March.

The Reuters Eurozone Purchasing Managers Index, compiled by NTC Research, registered 48.4 for last month, below the 50.0 threshold between expansion and contraction.

This marked the steepest rate of decline since December 2001 and a fall from February’s reading of 50.1, which was the first 50-plus figure for six months.

The deterioration partly reflects a slowdown in output growth, which tumbled from a three-month peak of 51.6 in February to 50.4 in March.

In addition, new orders slipped below the 50.0 mark after two months of expansion, posting the fastest contraction since January 2002. This suggests a significant turnaround in demand for manufactured goods.

Of the other components in the index: employment (in decline since June 2001) fell at its fastest for three months; the input prices index rose to 59.7; and there were drops in the amount of raw materials purchased, stocks of purchases and stocks of finished goods.

Data sourced from: NTC Research; additional content by WARC staff