The Latest Warning Sign for Europe

10/02/2012 2:00 am EST

Focus: GLOBAL

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

And this time, it doesn't come from Spain or Greece, but somewhere far more dangerous, writes MoneyShow's Jim Jubak, also of Jubak's Picks.

We have more evidence—in case you needed it—that Europe has slipped back into recession in the third quarter. And the newest economic danger zone is named France.

In September, Europe’s manufacturing sector suffered its worst decline since 2009, according to the Markit Economics purchasing managers index released yesterday.

Two countries in the Eurozone did manage to show growth in their manufacturing sectors—Ireland at 51.8 and the Netherlands at 50.7. (In this index, any number above 50 shows that the economy or sector is growing. Less than 50, and the economy or sector is in contraction.)

After those two countries, though, the data was grim indeed. Germany 47.4. Italy 45.7. Austria 45.1. Spain 44.5. France 42.7. And Greece 42.2.

For the Eurozone as a whole, the manufacturing index came in at 46.1 in the month. That’s the 11th month in a row with an index reading below 50. It is now almost a given that the Eurozone economy as a whole will slip back into recession when data for the third quarter is put together.

Nobody can be surprised at the 42.2 reading for Greece, a country whose economy is a shambles. But the 42.7 reading for France, just barely above that for Greece, is a shock. (France is the second-largest economy in the Eurozone.)

In September, the French manufacturing sector contracted at the fastest pace in three and a half years. The index had stood at 46 in August. The sub-index that tracks new orders was an even lower 39.6.

In other data, unemployment in Greece and Spain continued to worsen. The overall unemployment rate in Spain hit 25.1% and in Greece 24.4%. In Spain, 52.9% of adults under 25 are unemployed. The figure in Greece rises to 55.4% of all adults under 25.

Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio. The mutual fund I manage, Jubak Global Equity Fund, may or may not now own positions in any stock mentioned in this post. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of June, see the fund’s portfolio here.

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