Concerns regarding the health of the eurozone have intensified following the release of a new report this morning (21 March).
Markit's latest flash purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the 17-nation economic bloc has revealed the downturn has accelerated this month as the region continues to battle against the impact of its economic crisis.
In a gauge where any level below 50 is indicative of contraction, the PMI has slumped to a score of 46.5 in March - a marked decline on the figure of 47.9 registered last month.
This means the rate of contraction in business activity across the area has now quickened for two months in a row and, with the exception of January 2012, companies have seen their business activity go down every month since September 2011.
Although Germany continues to buck the general trend by posting both services and manufacturing output growth, chief economist at Markit Chris Williamson admitted the eurozone's short-term prospects look grim.
By Claire Archer