German private sector growth eases slightly in June and French business activity slows as strikes add to demand woes, according to the latest purchasing manager data. David Pollard reports.
Britain's EU referendum is making the headlines in France. But perhaps it should also be some of the more usual stories about the economy. Data showing an unexpected contraction in business activity for the first time in four months. Its economy on full alert because of industrial unrest over labour reform - the numbers coming on the same day as nationwide protests. And helping push the euro zone composite reading down to a 17-month low. With a marked slowdown in services activity. And that, say investors, could be unwelcome news for the ECB. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY WORLDWIDE INVESTMENT, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "Mario Draghi is determined to do what he has to do to support the euro zone, and he does have the appetite for more stimulus, and he's made that clear. However, I think at the moment, the European Central Bank is probably in 'wait and see' mode, it's announced some measures - it's begun buying corporate bonds for example, and I think it will probably wait and see how successful that programme has been in stimulating demand." German business activity looking at best 'stable'. Some German newspapers are making big if lighthearted promises to keep Britain in - such as a pledge not to hog sunloungers on Europe's beaches. One ray of sunlight coming from Italy - where industrial orders rose one percent in April - their biggest gain in five months.