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Recession looms large in euro zone

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 - 02:22

Heavy discounting failed to stop euro zone business activity growing less than thought last month. As Hayley Platt reports the new data suggests the bloc's economy may contract again early next year.

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There's been no shortage of signs about poor euro zone growth - as these bosses protesting in Paris this week know only too well. They were after labour reforms but would no doubt welcome any measures to help their firms beat the malaise. Latest data shows even heavy discounting failed to prevent business activity growing less than thought last month. In fact the survey's provider Markit now sees GDP across the bloc at only 0.1% this quarter with a contraction in the next one. But will it make any difference to the ECB? Marshall Gittler is from Iron FX. (SOUNDBITE) (English): MARSHALL GITTLER, HEAD OF GLOBAL FX STRATEGY, IRON FX, SAYING: "I think Draghi will repeat comments that he's made before back in November about willing to take more steps if necessary and do everything that's necessary, take extraordinary measures if they fall into deflation." There was still no respite for Germany either - its private sector grew at the slowest pace in 17 months in November. It has different views to France over the best solution. But German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel says they are still keen to work together. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN ECONOMY MINISTER SIGMAR GABRIEL SAYING: "We firmly believe that it makes no sense for us in Europe, for Germany and France or for other countries, to point fingers at the other countries and tell them what to do." But the different approaches are a problem. Germany's austerity "crusade" - as one analyst called it - limits options. And if monetary policy doesn't work - politicians have a dilemma. (SOUNDBITE) (English): MARSHALL GITTLER, HEAD OF GLOBAL FX STRATEGY, IRON FX, SAYING: "It's very hard for the politicians to take the required action and still get re-elected and also keep to the Maastricht Treaty which says three per cent of GDP deficits are the limit." France has broken that rule - as well as EU budget ones - but it has just promised to cut its spending gap target to 4.1% from 4.3% Nothing's easy of course and the ECB remains their favoured saviour. Ashraf Laidi is from City Index. (SOUNDBITE) (English): ASHRAF LAIDI, CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST, CITY INDEX, SAYING: "With the benchmark interest rates already below zero, they will have to try this asset-backed security, or they will basically have to force banks, or force banks in a way, to lend by the participation of the ECB." French unemployment figures are due out shortly before the ECB's monthly news conference. Some positive news about one of the euro zone's biggest problems would certainly be welcome.

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Recession looms large in euro zone

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 - 02:22