A contraction in private-sector business activity across the 17-nation euro zone accelerated sharply in April, according to the Markit composite purchasing managers' index, or PMI, released today. The index dropped to 46.7 from 49.1 in March, coming in below an earlier estimate of 47.4. Markit said its April services PMI for the region fell to 46.9 from 49.2 in March and came in below the preliminary estimate of 47.9. A reading of less than 50 signals a contraction in activity. Data out earlier in the week showed that 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.
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