One of the most important forward indicators for the euro zone economy came in weaker than expected for December, suggesting difficult times ahead.
Markit’s final composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), published Tuesday, came in at 51.4—lower than the earlier estimate of 51.7.
It suggests that the single currency region’s economy grew by just 0.1 percent in the final quarter of 2014, according to Chris Williamson, chief economist at survey compiler Markit.
The figures may increase pressure on Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, to launch a full-scale quantitative easing program to aid the euro zone recovery.
Business activity in Germany improved in December, however, fueling hopes that the euro zone’s largest economy will post modest growth in the fourth quarter. However, new work at its service firms fell for the first time in 18 months, highlighting the fragility of the region’s recovery.
France’s composite PMI also rose in the month, to 49.7, although a reading below 50 indicates contraction. The country’s reading for the services sector came in at 50.6, marking a slight expansion. However, “the overall health of the sector remains fragile amid a weak economic climate,” according to Jack Kennedy, senior economist at Markit.
In Italy, business activity in the services sector fell for the first time in three months, and expectations for future activity were in the lowest since November 2013. The country’s composite PMI fell to 49.4 in December, from 51.2 the previous month.
Spain offered a relative bright spot, however, with a services PMI reading of 54.3 in December, from November’s 52.7.