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Trade worries push eurozone business growth to 4-year low: survey

media Blockades by anti-government protestors have contributed to private-sector output contracting in France last month, a key survey has showed, while output growth in the eurozone overall hit a four-year low AFP/File

Worries about a global trade war and disruptions caused by anti-government protests in France pushed business growth in the eurozone to a four-year low in December, an influential survey showed Friday.

The flash reading of a survey of eurozone businesses conducted by data firm IHS Markit, the composite eurozone PMI, fell to 51.3 points from 52.7 points in November.

A reading above 50 points indicates business is still expanding.

IHS Markit said new business inflows almost stalled, job creation slipped to a two-year low and business optimism deteriorated.

"An undercurrent of slowing economic growth was exacerbated by protests in France and on-going weak demand for autos," said the firm.

The survey for France showed business there has flipped into reverse, with the index plunging to 49.3 in December from 54.2 in November.

"While some of the slowdown reflected disruptions to business and travel arising from the 'yellow vest' protests in France, the weaker picture also reflects growing evidence that the underlying rate of economic growth has slowed across the euro area as a whole," said IHS Markit's Chief Business Economist Chris Williamson.

"Companies are worried about the global economic and political climate, with trade wars and Brexit adding to increased political tensions within the euro area," he added.

The data point to a weak economic expansion of 0.3 percent in the final quarter of the year for the eurozone, he said.

But December's data alone show GDP growth is slowing to a 0.1 percent rate, and forward-looking information such as orders and sentiment show demand growth is stalling, he added.

The flash reading of Germany's composite PMI dipped by a tenth of a percentage point to 52.2.

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