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French business activity nears six-year high, PMI shows
April 5, 2017 / 7:55 AM / 6 months ago

French business activity nears six-year high, PMI shows

People walk past by the tower of French state-owned electricity company EDF is seen at La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France on April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS, (Reuters) - French business activity grew at the fastest pace in nearly six years in March, albeit not as fast as initially thought, as price cuts helped boost demand for services, a survey showed on Wednesday.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its composite purchasing managers index rose to 56.8 from 55.9 in February, lower than the 57.6 originally reported.

The improvement brought the index to its highest level since May 2011 and moved the indicator further above the 50-point threshold dividing expansion from contraction.

The result was weaker than initially reported because activity in services, one component, was not as strong as the

preliminary results indicated.

The index for services rose to 57.5 from 56.4 in February, but fell short of the 58.5 preliminary reading. IHS Markit economist Alex Gill said that despite the revision the service sector pointed to a strong first quarter, with companies stepping up hiring in March as the flow of new business also improved.

“The sector remains largely resilient to uncertainty generated by the upcoming presidential elections,” he said.

“A punchy Q1 GDP figure therefore looks increasingly likely, while a further round of job creation signalled by March’s survey data is likely to be reflected in official employment data,” he said.

- Detailed PMI data are only available under licence from IHS Markit and customers need to apply to IHS Markit for a licence.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas, editing by Larry King

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