Italy's manufacturing sector contracted in February for an 11th straight month, at roughly the same pace as in January, a survey showed on Friday, pointing to continuing weakness in the euro zone's third largest economy.

The HCOB Global Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for Italian manufacturing edged up last month to 48.7 from 48.5, but remained below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

It was the highest reading since March last year, although it lagged a median forecast of 49.1 in a Reuters survey of 13 analysts.

"Italy's industry is stuck in a rut with no signs of improvement," said HCOB economist Tariq Kamal Chaudhry.

"What's worrying is the accelerated drop in output compared to the previous month," he added.

The manufacturing output sub-index fell to 48.1 from a previous 49.2, but the new orders score increased to 47.1 from 46.6, both remaining in the sub-50 territory indicating contraction.

Italian gross domestic product edged up by 0.2% in the fourth quarter of last year from the previous three months following a 0.1% uptick between July and September.

Most analysts expect the listless growth to have continued in the first quarter of this year. (Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Susan Fenton)