Private-sector output across the 17-nation euro zone contracted in May at the sharpest pace since mid-2009, the preliminary Markit purchasing managers index for the region indicated Thursday. The composite PMI index fell to a 35-month low of 45.9 from 46.7 in April. A reading of less than 50 signals a contraction in activity. The services PMI reading for the region fell to 46.5 from 46.9 in April, while the manufacturing PMI dropped to 45.0 from 45.9. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a composite reading of 46.5. "The survey is broadly consistent with gross domestic product falling by at least 0.5% across the region in the second quarter, as an increasingly steep downturn in the periphery infects both France and Germany," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
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