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Business activity woes

Business activity in the euro area picked up less than expected last month despite much deeper price cutting, according to surveys.

Firms have now been reducing prices for almost three years and did so last month at the steepest rate since early 2010, just when the single currency bloc was sinking into the depths of a financial crisis.

Weak growth and further discounting will add to pressure on the European Central Bank as it battles to bring inflation out of what it terms the "danger zone".