French private sector growth at strongest in nearly six years
The Markit Flash France Composite Output Index, based on around 85% of normal monthly survey replies, registered 57.6, compared to February’s reading of 55.9.
The latest figure pointed to the sharpest rate of growth since May 2011.
Service providers continued to raise their activity levels during March, thereby extending the latest sequence of growth to nine months.
Moreover, the rate of expansion accelerated to a 70-month peak.
Manufacturing output also continued to increase at a solid pace, albeit to a slightly weaker extent than in February.
Growth in output was paralleled by a ninth successive rise in new business during March.
Furthermore, the rate of growth was also the most marked since May 2011.
Higher client demand was recorded in both the manufacturing and service sectors, with rates of expansion quicker than in February.
Manufacturing exports rose at a pace close to December’s five-and-a-half year high.
Boosted by strong underlying demand conditions, firms operating in the French private sector raised their staffing numbers in March, thereby extending the latest sequence of jobs growth into a fifth month.
The rate of job creation at service providers continued to outweigh that recorded by their goods-producing counterparts, increasing at the fastest pace since August 2011.
The level of business outstanding at French private sector companies rose for the thirteenth time in as many months in March with growth the highest in six years.
Strong capacity pressures were evident at both manufacturing and services companies.
In line with the sharper rise in new orders, the amount of unfinished work accumulated faster in the service sector.
Private sector firms in France recorded higher input prices during March, thereby furthering a trend that has been observed since March last year.
The rate of inflation eased fractionally from February’s 68-month high, but remained sharp nonetheless.
Prices pressures continued to be felt most strongly in the manufacturing sector.
Meanwhile, average selling prices rose for the first time since April 2012, albeit at a fractional pace.
The uptick was driven by marked inflation in the manufacturing sector.
Meanwhile, price-cuts continued to be recorded in the service sector, but at the weakest rate in three months.
Finally, private sector companies sustained a positive outlook towards activity over the coming 12 months.
Moreover, the degree of optimism strengthened from February and was the most marked in almost five years of data collection.
Those companies anticipating an increase in output over the coming 12 months commented on strong demand from the US and Asia, plus hopes for favourable post-election economic conditions. ■
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