April 3, 2018 / 7:53 AM / 21 days ago

French manufacturing growth slowest in a year in March, PMI shows

PARIS, (Reuters) - - French manufacturing grew in March at the slowest pace in a year as customer demand weakened in the face of a stronger euro and bad weather, a survey showed on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Employees work on the assembly line to build Yaris cars at Toyota's automobile manufacturing plant in Onnaing, France, January 22, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

Data compiler IHS Markit said its monthly final purchasing managers’ index fell to 53.7 in March from 55.9 in February.

That brought the index closer to the 50-point line dividing expansions in activity from contractions. It was marginally higher than a preliminary reading of 53.6.

The flow of new orders and backlogs of work already on order both grew at the slowest pace since February 2017, but companies only marginally slowed their hiring.

“Weaker client demand can be at least partially attributed to poor weather conditions and a strong euro,” IHS Markit economist Alex Gill said.

“Taken together, the data suggest a moderation from the rates of growth that we saw in much of 2017. At 53.7 in March, however, the headline PMI remains firmly in expansionary territory and consistent with a positive contribution of the sector to GDP for the first quarter,” he added.

France saw unseasonably cold weather as well as snow in March, and the euro has been trading around a three-year high since the start of the year, which makes French goods more expensive to buyers from outside the euro zone.

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Reporting by Leigh Thomas, editing by Larry King

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