French manufacturing growth picked up in January: PMI

PARIS (Reuters) – French manufacturing growth picked up in January, a survey showed Monday, as euro zone’s second-biggest economy aims maintain momentum in the face of a wave of strikes and protests.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its purchasing managers’ index rose to 51.1 in January from 50.4 in December, moving the index further above the 50-point line dividing expansions in activity from contractions.

Nevertheless, the broader outlook for the French economy remains uncertain as the impact of strikes against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to simplify and streamline the country’s pension system starts to bite.

Data last week showed the French economy had unexpectedly contracted in the final quarter of last year as manufacturing output slumped in the face of the strikes.

“Output grew at a faster pace (in January) compared to December and there was a fresh rise in new orders. That said, there was a disappointment on the job front, as employment slipped into contraction territory,” said IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr.

“At the sub-sector level, consumer goods firms led the way with another marked improvement in business conditions. Meanwhile, the health of the investment goods sub-sector stabilized after deteriorating in December. The worst performing category was intermediate goods, where output and new orders both continued to fall,” added Kerr.

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

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