Investing.com - French private-sector activity stabilized in February after successive contractions in the previous two months, a report showed on Thursday.
The preliminary reading of the IHS Markit composite output index, which measures the combined output of both the manufacturing and service sectors, rose to a three-month high of 49.9, from 48.2 in January. Economists had forecast a reading of 49.0.
“February flash data pointed to a broad stabilisation in output...offering relatively positive news after the weak performances of December and January," said Eliot Kerr, an economist at survey compiler IHS Markit.
“Although the ‘gilets jaunes’ protests are still ongoing and panellists have suggested that these are still causing disruption, the economy showed resilience in the latest survey period," Kerr added. "Encouragingly, the rate of job creation accelerated and new orders declined only marginally, arresting the downward momentum
seen over the past couple of months,"
Service providers reported only a fractional decline in business activity, the report said, while manufacturers saw production broadly stabilize.
Companies reported adding new staff at a quicker pace in February, with job creation rising faster in the service sector.
Companies remained optimistic towards the business outlook. The level of confidence was broadly in line with January, despite a slight fall in sentiment among manufacturers.
The services PMI climbed to a three-month high, ticking up to 49.8 from 47.8 in January, which was the sharpest contraction in over four years.
The manufacturing PMI hit the highest level in five months, hitting 51.4 up from 51.2 in January and ahead of expectations for a reading of 51.0.
A reading above 50.0 on the index indicates expansion, below indicates contraction.