By Jonathan Davies

The growth of the eurozone economy has slowed to its weakest pace this year, according to a closely watched survey.

The Markit/CIPS Eurozone Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) showed a figure of 52.5 in August, down from 53.8 in July.

Any figure above 50 indicates growth, but 52.5 is the slowest growth recorded by the PMI in 2014.

It comes as the French and Italian economies struggled to grow. France's PMI fell to 49.5, indicating that the economy contracted slightly in August despite an upturn in its services sector. Italy dipped back into contraction in August after seven months of expansion.

There was more positive news for the eurozone's largest economy. Germany's PMI showed 53.7 - despite still showing strong growth, it was down on July's 55.7.

Ireland isn't a nation you hear or read much about in these kind of statistics, but it recorded a 14-year high figure of 61.8 in August.

"The eurozone economy is defying expectations of gaining momentum, which will no doubt add to calls for the ECB to embark on full-scale quantitative easing," said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is set to announce its decision on interest rates tomorrow (Thursday).

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