PARIS, (Reuters) - French manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in nearly six years in January as demand firmed up, a poll showed on Wednesday.
Data compiler IHS Markit said its final purchasing managers’ index rose to 53.6 in January from 53.5 in December, reaching the highest level since May 2011.
That was slightly higher than a preliminary reading of 53.4 and took the index further above the 50-point line dividing expansions in activity from contractions.
Manufacturers hired staff at the fastest rate since June 2011 although the flow of new orders expanded at a slightly slower pace than in December.
“These are encouraging signs given the broad desire in France to reduce its level of unemployment,” said IHS Markit economist Alex Gill.
However, he added that political uncertainty ahead of France’s two-round presidential election in April and May may weigh on demand in the coming months.
Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson