The eurozone economy suffered an "unprecedented" collapse according to the latest purchasing managers index (PMI) index put out Thursday by analysis firm IHS Markit, amid lockdowns over the virus outbreak.
"The eurozone economy suffered the steepest falls in business activity and employment ever recorded during April as a result of measures taken to contain the coronavirus outbreak," it said.
The company's PMI dived to a record low of 13.5 in April, from the previous all-time low of 29.7 in March, confirming the private sector gloom ravaging the 19-nation eurozone.
The index is the lowest reading since the survey which measures expectations of business activity within the private sector which began in 1998.
Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at IHS Markit, said, “April saw unprecedented damage to the eurozone economy amid virus lockdown measures coupled with slumping global demand and shortages of both staff and inputs.”
He added that “the extent to which the PMI survey has shown business to have collapsed across the eurozone greatly exceeds anything ever seen before in over 20 years of data collection.”
Caution gripped markets on Thursday, with stocks falling before a key Eurogroup meeting to discuss joint stimulus measures, offsetting optimism from a fresh round of U.S. coronavirus aid and a recovery in oil prices.
European stocks slipped 0.4% and U.S. stock futures were down 0.3% after a strong showing on Wednesday.
"EU Council meeting will be closely watched to see how quickly EU policymakers will move toward area-wide fiscal risk-sharing," said George Cole, an economist at Goldman Sachs. "We expect the discussions to fall short of a full commitment to mutualize risks from the COVID-19 shock."
Adding further pressure were business activity surveys in the eurozone that showed economies suffered massive blows from the coronavirus outbreak and measures to contain it.