PARIS, April 3 French factory activity picked up in March as manufacturers saw new orders grow at the fastest pace in nearly six years, a survey showed on Monday.
Data compiler IHS Markit said the final reading of the purchasing managers' index rose to 53.3 from 52.2 in February. That took the index further beyond the 50-point line dividing expansions in activity from contractions, though it was slightly lower than the preliminary reading of 53.4.
"New order growth was the driving force behind the increase, with further evidence that the weak euro had boosted client demand," IHS Markit economist Alex Gill.
"Meanwhile, firms remained strongly confident that output will rise over the next 12 months."
New orders grew for the sixth month in a row, expanding at the strongest rate since May 2011, with Markit reporting anecdotal evidence of the automotive sector seeing particularly strong demand.
Exporters surveyed by Markit reported seeing improved demand from the United States and Asia in particular.
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