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Euro area business activity growth edged lower in July, according to the Markit Eurozone Flash PMI, dropping to an 18-month low. July's flash PMI reading of 52.9 compared to 53.1 in the prior two months and signalled only a marginal easing in the rate of growth of output across both manufacturing and services. However, the overall pace of growth remained only slightly slower than the average seen so far this year, and employment rose at the fastest rate for almost five-and-a-half years as companies boosted capacity in line with the overall upturn in the economy. Rates of expansion moderated slightly in both sectors, slipping to a one-and-a-half year nadir in services but merely easing to a two-month low in manufacturing. The relatively stronger performance in manufacturing was helped by a further upturn in new export orders, in turn linked to the weaker euro. However, export growth slowed fractionally from June's six-month high, in part due to weakened sales to the UK which were often blamed on the UK referendum and the weakening pound.
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