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The eurozone’s manufacturing sector has firmly come off the boil this year in a trend that has continued deep into the second quarter, according to a batch of surveys released on Friday.

IHS Markit’s eurozone factory purchasing managers’ index came in at 55.5 in May from 56.2 the previous month. That matched a ‘flash’ estimate that was compiled using a less complete set of data. While the reading was well above the 50 marker, it was the weakest rate of expansion in 15 months.

The PMI covering Germany’s vast factory sector fell to a 15-month low, while the Spanish PMI was at a nine-month low and Italy’s clocked in at an 18-month trough. French PMI picked up to a three-month high.

Hard data covering the first quarter suggested the eurozone’s economic growth cooled down markedly after a strong run in 2017. Surveys so far covering the next three-month period have pointed to a similar trend, something that European Central Bank policymakers are watching closely as they plan the end of the bond-buying programme.

“Some of the weakness may have been related to a higher than usual number of holidays during the month, but risks appear tilted towards growth remaining subdued or even cooling further in coming months,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

He added:

There are signs that the soft patch has further to run. Despite the production trend slowing markedly in recent months, the order book slowdown has been even sharper.

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