The euro zone's manufacturing sector contracted at the sharpest pace in almost three years in April, indicating that the region's economy is likely to face tough times in near term. The drop in manufacturing activity was spread across the euro zone, but steepest in Greece, according to the latest Markit Economics' purchasing managers index data. The manufacturing PMI for the euro zone slumped to 45.9 in April from March's 47.7. That was weaker than the preliminary reading and also the lowest index level since June 2009. Economists had forecast the index would be unchanged from the 46.0 preliminary reading. Germany's manufacturing PMI fell to 46.2 in April from 48.4 in March, while Italy's PMI slid to 43.8 from March's 47.9, while in France the PMI improved a little to 46.9 from 46.7, remaining firmly in contractionary mode. A level above 50 signals an expansion in activity, while a level below 50 signals a contraction.
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