France: Private sector activity softens in December
The seasonally-adjusted IHS Markit Flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) ticked down to 52.0 in December from 52.1 in November. Nevertheless, the index remained above the 50-threshold that separates expansion from contraction in business conditions.
December’s marginal slip reflected easing activity in the manufacturing sector, while activity in the service sector remained mildly upbeat. Manufacturers reported that production broadly stagnated amid a decline in new orders, while service providers saw both output and new orders rise amid stronger external demand. Despite the milder overall activity, companies continued to increase their staff levels, as backlogs of work grew at the fastest pace in over a year in December. Finally, business confidence eased slightly from November’s seven-month high.
In view of December’s developments, Eliot Kerr, economist at IHS Markit, noted:
“Following some green shoots in October and November, manufacturing production stagnated and new orders returned to contraction territory. Moreover, employment and outstanding business stuttered to somewhat quell hopes of sustained industrial recovery. On the other hand, service sector growth remained broadly in line with trend and continued to provide support to the economy.”