May data on manufacturing business activity for a slew of countries in Europe are out, and they’re surprisingly upbeat. At a 15-month high of 48.3, the overall euro zone purchasing managers’ index (PMI) suggests that the pace of deterioration of business conditions is slowing throughout the region.
Q2 euro zone GDP is still likely come in at around -0.2%, (pdf) says Markit chief economist Chris Williamson. But the PMI data relieves some of the pressure on the European Central Bank to expand monetary easing at its next meeting on Thursday. “Although the euro area manufacturing economy continued to contract in May, it is reassuring to see the rate of decline ease to such a marked extent,” said Williamson. ”The sector still seems some way off stabilizing, however, and therefore remains a drag on the economy.” Also worth noting: nearly all countries surveyed slashed prices, a sign of deflationary pressure. Here’s a visual roundup of what you need to know: