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Europe under pressure as German output declines

June 21, 2012: 10:29 AM ET

The bad news just keeps piling up for Europe.

An index of purchasing managers, formally known as the Markit flash eurozone PMI, came in at 46 in June, still showing contraction but unchanged from May. The index has been contracting since September, and it remains at the lowest level since 2009. The second quarter has also seen "the steepest downturn" in three years.

The only glimmer of hope is that the PMI didn't contract any further; any reading below 50 signals contraction. "They continue to point to a contraction in the economy but do not suggest that activity has collapsed," said Ernst & Young senior economic advisor Marie Diron.

While that slim silver lining may appease some worriers, the 17-nation eurozone is still suffering under massive amounts of debt in many of its sovereign nations ... and time is running out to save the likes of Greece and, to some extent, Spain.

And conditions in Germany, the healthiest and largest eurozone country, deteriorated for the second month, with output declining at the fastest rate in three years.

That could set the stage for a sharp decline in second quarter GDP.

"There is a risk that without decisive action by policymakers, confidence in the eurozone will rapidly deteriorate," said Diron. "Without clear commitments to take measures to restore stability in the region in a durable manner, the eurozone could fall into a much deeper recession."

Related: Should Draghi be more like Bernanke?

Some say the PMI figures could raise calls for a rate cut by the European Central Bank when it meets next month. Earlier this month, the ECB left interests rates unchanged at 1%, but the vote wasn't unanimous and raised chatter about what the central bank would do next.

ECB president Mario Draghi also recently said the central banks stands ready to help.

Today's PMI figures may make  the call to action grow louder.

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