BRUSSELS - Eurozone manufacturing activity held firm in October despite unexpectedly weak signals from France, a closely-watched survey indicated Monday.
The eurozone manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) compiled by Markit Economics recorded 51.3 points going by final survey results collected from about 3,000 firms.
That was unchanged from a first estimate.
But France slumped into territory indicating economic contraction in manufacturing, on a four-month low of 49.1 points as against an initial estimate of 49.4.
France and Greece were the only two of the 17 eurozone countries to see a drop in private manufacturing business activity.
The best performer in October was Ireland, on a 30-month high of 54.9 points.
The index is regarded as a reliable indicator of how the manufacturing sector will perform, and is watched as a guide to the trend of the economy
Markit said there were signs that manufacturing was more than holding its own in the eurozone's fragile and uneven recovery in the third quarter after a record 18-month recession.
The researchers said manufacturing production, new orders, new export orders and stocks of finished goods were all in better positions in October than in September, although employment fell for the 21st month in a row.
"The eurozone manufacturing economy is undergoing its strongest growth period for two-and-a-half years," said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.
However, the re-emergence from recession "is by all measures frustratingly slow," despite signs of turnaround in Spain and Italy, taken by Williamson to suggest that structural reforms to boost competitiveness "are starting to pay off."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013