France: Composite PMI moderates in March, still signals expansion in business activity
March 24, 2015
The composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) elaborated by Markit moderated in March, inching down from February’s three-and-half year high 52.2 to 51.7 in March. With March’s result, the composite PMI remained for the second consecutive month above the 50-threshold that indicates expansion in business activity, after the indicator had remained in contractionary territory over the last nine months.
According to Markit, “the rate of growth eased since February and was modest overall.” As in previous surveys, business activity growth in services offset a decrease in activity in the manufacturing sector. Growth in services was solid, although slower than in the previous month. In the manufacturing sector, business activity registered a similar drop as in February. Markit reported that new businesses rose for the fourth consecutive month in March and the growth pace was the fastest since August 2011. Conversely, new export orders in the manufacturing sector continued to contract in March. Meanwhile, employment rose for the first time in 17 months, but the increase was only marginal over the previous month.
Markit concluded that, “March’s PMI data show a further tentative expansion of output in France’s private sector economy. […] However, the divergence in sector performance continued, with the service sector again shouldering the burden of expansion amid ongoing contraction in manufacturing.”
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist