French business activity inches closer to recovery in February -PMI

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 12:18 PM

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (Reuters) – The downturn in French business activity eased considerably in February, according to a monthly survey, as employment rose for the first time since October and business confidence strengthened to a seven-month high.

The HCOB flash purchasing managers index for France’s dominant services sector, compiled by S&P Global, rose to 48.0, above the 45.6 forecast in a Reuters poll, and a sharp jump from January’s final reading of 45.4 points.

Any figure below 50 marks a contraction, while above 50 shows an expansion in activity.

The flash manufacturing PMI rose to 46.8 points – also better than a Reuters poll forecast for 43.5 points and above January’s final manufacturing PMI of 43.1.

The flash composite PMI, which comprises both the services and manufacturing sectors, rose to 47.7 points from 44.6 in January, beating a Reuters poll forecast for 45.0.

“France’s economy is in recovery mode. Even if the economy continues to shrink, this is happening at a much slower pace, as the composite PMI has improved by more than three points,” said Hamburg Commercial Bank economist Norman Liebke.

“The French service sector is edging closer to growth. Exporters are partly responsible for this glimmer of hope, and one possible explanation for this would be an improvement in demand for tourism,” he added.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Christina Fincher)