PARIS (Reuters) - The French private sector kept up a brisk pace of expansion at the start of 2018, with the service sector, led by hotels and restaurants, receiving more new business last month than at any time since May 2011, a survey showed on Monday.
Data compiler IHS Markit said its purchasing managers index for services rose to 59.2 in January from 59.1 the month before, a touch lower than a preliminary reading of 59.3.
The index rose further away from the 50-point threshold dividing expansions in activity from contractions.
IHS Markit’s composite PMI index, which includes the services and manufacturing sectors, held steady at 59.6 last month, slightly lower than the 59.7 originally reported.
“French private sector growth showed no signs of abating at the start of 2018, with the headline composite output PMI indicating one of the sharpest rounds of monthly growth since early 2011,” IHS Markit Economist Alex Gill said.
“The data indicate a firmly positive near-term outlook for the French private sector economy,” he added.
New orders placed with French services companies reached the highest in over 6-1/2 years, with panellists attributing the rise to higher client demand, lower interest rates and business investment.
Prices charged by service companies rose for the fifth time in as many months in January, passing on higher input prices which managers linked to higher salaries and energy costs.
Staffing numbers increased for the 13th consecutive month, with activity in the hotels and restaurants sector showing the strongest performance, the data showed.
Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Hugh; Lawson