Growth in eurozone business activity grew at its slowest rate for over a year in March, a key survey showed on Thursday, signalling that the economic recovery in the single currency area's was losing momentum.
Employment growth remained solid however, according to the report by data monitoring company IHS Markit, with job creation seen in both the services and manufacturing sectors, even if at slower rate.
Analysts at Markit said that the data showed a second successive monthly easing in the eurozone's growth rate after a bumper start to the year. January's PMI had been the highest since June 2006.
A purchasing managers' index (PMI) by Markit data monitoring company IHS Markit fell to 55.3 in March from 57.1 in February. A figure over 50 indicates the economy is expanding.
"While the first quarter average PMI reading remains relatively robust, indicative of GDP rising by 0.7-0.8 percent, the loss of momentum since the buoyant start to the year has been quite dramatic," Chris Williamson of Markit said.
"At least some of the slowing may be ascribed to bad weather in some northern regions and, perhaps more importantly, 'growing pains' resulting from the strength of the recent growth spurt," he added.
The final figure was well below the forecast by financial services company Factset, which predicted 56.8 for March.