French business activity rose more strongly than expected in February – PMI

PARIS (Reuters) – French business Activity rose more strongly than expected in February, according to a monthly survey, helped by an improving COVID-19 situation in the country and stronger demand for goods and services.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its flash Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for France’s dominant services sector rose to 57.9 points from 53.1 in January, beating a forecast that had predicted 53, 6 points for this February flash figure.

The index again passed above the threshold of 50 points which marks an expansion of activity.

The February flash PMI figure for the French manufacturing sector rose to 57.6 points from 55.5 in January, and also beat a forecast of 55.5 points.

The February composite PMI for France – which includes both the manufacturing and services sectors – rose to 57.4 points from 52.7 in January, beating a forecast of 53.1 points.

French economic activity has been helped by an improvement in the country’s COVID-19 situation, which in turn has led to a gradual easing of COVID restrictions.

Earlier this month, France eased some restrictions on travelers entering the country who hold a COVID vaccine certificate, which could help tourism in France.

“The January crisis turned out to be short-lived because business activity growth accelerated sharply in February to its highest level since last June,” said IHS Markit Senior Economist Joe Hayes.

“Now that the trajectory of COVID-19 in France is downward, this should continue to facilitate higher levels of activity in both sectors,” added Hayes.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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