France: Private sector activity ticks up in February
The seasonally-adjusted IHS Markit Flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) edged up to 52.0 in February from 51.1 in January. Thus, the index remained above the 50-threshold that separates expansion from contraction in business conditions.
February’s uptick reflected a solid expansion in services, which outweighed a decline in manufacturing output. Moreover, overall new orders rose as service providers reported rising new business. Conversely, manufacturers recorded a fresh decrease in new business. Meanwhile, the rate of employment creation was the fastest since October 2018 thanks to solid job gains in the services sector. Finally, the one-year business outlook strengthened to a 10-month high in February.
In view of February’s developments, Eliot Kerr, Economist at IHS Markit, noted:
“Following composite output growth in both January and February, the French economy is on course to recover from the surprising GDP contraction in the fourth quarter of 2019. “However, amid the spread of coronavirus into Europe, that recovery is in severe jeopardy, with a further spread of the virus almost certain to disrupt both the manufacturing and service sectors.”