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Euro zone slump eased in May but still sharp

As lockdowns in the euro zone eased in May, so did the crippling impact of the crisis on its economy.

While thousands of cases of the virus are still being reported daily, countries such as Germany and France have started to reopen parts of their economies.

Having crashed to what was by far the lowest reading in the survey's nearly 22-year history last month, IHS Markit's flash Purchasing Managers' Index recovered to 30.5.

That was from April's reading of 13.6.

The index is seen as a good gauge of economic health.

And while May's reading shows signs of recovery, it was was still a long way below the 50 mark which signifies growth.

A loosening of lockdown measures in Germany helped services and manufacturers in Europe's largest economy gain some ground.

But as companies expected demand to remain weak for some time, they continued to cut jobs.

It was a similar story in France, the only other euro zone country to report a flash PMI.

The business slump did not ease quite as much as expected.

The weak numbers come despite the European Central Bank pledging to buy more than a trillion euros in assets this year.

As well as governments outlining hundreds of billions in spending plans to support businesses and households.

In Britain, which has reported the highest COVID-19 related death toll in Europe, the data also edged higher.

That was after a nosedive in April.

But its economy remains in the grip of a severe contraction.