The euro area manufacturing activity continued to shrink in February but the pace of contraction was moderate, final data from the purchasing managers' survey by S&P Global showed Friday.

The HCOB manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, fell slightly to 46.5 from January's 10-month high of 46.6. The score was above the flash 46.1.

The reading suggested the second-slowest deterioration in manufacturing conditions since March 2023.

Factory orders declined at the slowest pace since March last year. Production decreased midway through the first quarter, although the rate of contraction held steady.

Companies reduced their inventories and operating expenses continued to fall. Input price inflation was the weakest since March 2023. Prices charged for Eurozone goods were discounted further.

Further, prospects regarding future output remained cautiously optimistic.

The decline in the manufacturing sector was largely driven by the largest economy of the single currency union, Germany.

Spain returned to growth for the first time in nearly a year, while softer contractions were seen in Italy and France.

Germany's HCOB manufacturing PMI dropped for the first time in seven months in February. The index slid to 42.5 from an 11-month high of 45.5 in January.

Meanwhile, France's HCOB factory PMI rose to 47.1 from 43.1 in the prior month. The measure hit the highest since March 2023. The initial score for February was 46.8.

Italy's manufacturing PMI posted 48.7 in February, up from 48.5 in January. The score was well above economists' forecast of 49.1.

Spain returned to growth in February with both output and new orders staging marginal improvements. The corresponding index registered 51.5, up from 49.2 a month ago.

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