Data points to eurozone recovery losing steam in Q3

PARIS (AFP) - The eurozone recovery is losing steam, data released on Wednesday suggested, with France possibly heading back into recession.

Eurostat released its second estimate of the eurozone's third-quarter growth, which was unchanged at 0.1 per cent.

That marks a slowdown from the 0.3-per cent economic growth recorded in the second quarter when the eurozone escaped a record 18-month recession.

HSBC bank analyst Matteo Caminetta said the eurozone's dependence on global trade for recovery was obvious.

"As exports stalled in the third quarter, so did GDP (gross domestic product)," he wrote in a market comment.

Exports growth slowed from 2.1 per cent in the second quarter to 0.2 per cent in the third, while imports grew by 1.0 per cent in the third quarter.

Economist James Howat at Capital Economics said "with imports rising faster than exports, net trade was a drag on growth." More current data signalled a slowdown in the current quarter.

Eurostat also said on Wednesday that the volume of retail trade dipped by 0.2 per cent in November from the previous month in seasonally-adjusted terms.

Forward-looking business survey data also released on Wednesday indicated the recovery is slow and uneven.

Markit said the final score for its composite eurozone Purchasing Managers' Index for November came in at 51.7, down from 51.9 points in October.

While it was the fifth month running with a reading above 50, which signals growth, November was the second month in a row that it has slowed.

However, the surveys of managers about their operations, which are a reliable indicator of GDP growth, painted a contrasting picture across the eurozone.

While Germany was at a 29-month high at 55.4 and Ireland hit a 5-month high at the same level, both Italy and France declined again.

Italy slid to a 5-month low of 48.8 and France hit a 5-month low of 48.0.

"The final PMI data confirm that the euro area's recovery lost some momentum in November," said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.