Europe’s stock benchmarks plunge on poor PMI data

<p>Europe’s main stock benchmarks have lost ground following disappointing PMI data from Markit.</p>

Europe's major stock benchmarks have lost ground this afternoon (February 21st) following disappointing purchasing managers' index (PMI) data that indicates the region is far from the road to recovery.

The index for the 17-nation eurozone compiled by Markit fell from 48.6 in January to 47.3 in February, marking a full year below the 50 figure.

Data higher than this benchmark indicates expansion, while readings lower than 50 signify contraction and therefore the single currency region's business and services sectors remain in a state of shrinkage that is worse month-on-month than in January.

Chief economist for Markit Chris Williamson said: "A steepening rate of decline in February is a disappointment and suggests that the eurozone is on course to contract for a fourth consecutive quarter in the first three months of the year."

At 16:45 GMT, the German Dax slipped by 1.8 per cent to an index value of 7588.4 points and the French Cac 40 lost two per cent to 2514 points.

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