A swathe of dismal economic news cast a long shadow across Europe yesterday, beating the single currency lower by nearly 1%. The manufacturing PMIs in the periphery for April were uniformly dreadful, Spain down to 43.6 and Italy to 43.8 (from 47.9 in March). For the latter, the new order balance saw the biggest monthly decline for three years, from 45.7 to 39.2, suggesting that there's not much on the horizon to turn around the fortunes of the manufacturing sector anytime soon. There was also a modest downward revision to the provisional PMI readings for both France and Germany, by 0.4 and 0.1 respectively, to 46.9 and 46.2. As if that wasn't bad enough, the unemployment rate in Italy jumped to a 12yr high of 9.8% in March (9.4% was expected), Germany recorded the largest monthly increase in unemployment (19k) for nearly two years, and the unemployment rate for the euro-area rose to a 15yr high. Today's ECB meeting is therefore extremely timely. At the very least, with recession deepening in a number of Eurozone economies, Mario Draghi and his men must be considering how they can ease financial conditions further. With the US recovery looking more assured these days, it is no wonder that the single currency took yesterday's smorgasbord of shocking news rather badly. It was also worth noting the response of peripheral bond markets to this darker economic landscape – bond yields rose markedly in both Italy and Spain, while the spread to Bunds at the long end widened by around 15bp. Both the dollar and the yen gained from this renewed burst of risk avoidance, while the Aussie dipped back to 1.03.