BRUSSELS (dpa-AFX) - Eurozone private sector grew at the slowest pace in 20 months in September as services activity expanded the least since the end of 2014, while manufacturing gained strength.
The flash composite output index slid to 52.6 in September from 52.9 in August, data from Markit showed Friday.
Economists had expected the index to fall marginally to 52.8. Nonetheless, a score above 50 indicates expansion.
The average index reading of 52.9 over the third quarter was below that of second quarter's 53.1.
'While the underlying picture remains one of sluggish growth of close to 0.3 percent over the quarter as a whole, it also remains clear that the economic upturn is still fragile and failing to achieve any real traction,' Rob Dobson, a senior economist at IHS Markit, said.
The flash factory Purchasing Managers' index improved to 52.6 from 51.7 in August. The reading was expected to fall to 51.5.
Meanwhile, the services PMI dropped to 52.1 from 52.8 in the prior month. This was the lowest in 21 months. The score was forecast to remain unchanged at 52.8.
By nation, output growth eased to a 16-month low in Germany, mainly reflecting a sharp slowdown in the service sector.
Germany's composite output index fell to a 16-month low of 52.7 in September from 53.3 in August.
While German service providers reported a near-stagnation of output in September, manufacturers registered ongoing solid growth.
The services PMI fell unexpectedly to a 39-month low of 50.6 from 51.7 in August. The score was forecast to rise to 52.1.
By contrast, the manufacturing PMI improved to 54.3 from 53.6 a month ago. The reading was expected to fall to 53.1.
On the other hand, France registered its fastest rate of economic expansion since June 2015, outperforming Germany for the first time in over four years.
The French composite output index rose to 53.3 in September, a 15-month high, from 51.9 in August.
The flash services PMI advanced unexpectedly to 54.1 from 52.3 in August, while it was forecast to drop to 52.0.
The factory PMI climbed more-than-expected to 49.5 from 48.3 in the previous month. The expected score was 48.5. The manufacturing output index held steady at 50.0.
Elsewhere, the French statistical office INSEE downgraded its GDP growth figure for the second quarter on Friday. According to the latest report, the economy shrank 0.1 percent in the second quarter on weak household spending and investment.
IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer suspects that Eurozone economic activity could be increasingly hampered by political uncertainty over the coming months with elections due in 2017 in France and Germany, Spain facing a third general election before long and the Renzi government looking vulnerable in Italy.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX