PARIS (Reuters) – France’s dominant service sector saw business pick up in August to its strongest pace in nine months as new orders firmed and hiring accelerated, a monthly survey showed on Wednesday.
Data compiler IHS Markit said that its Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the service sector rose to 53.4, the highest since November 2018 and up from 52.6 in July.
The result was slightly better than a preliminary reading of 53.3 and also marked the fifth month running that the index was above the key 50-point threshold demarcating an expansion in activity from a contraction.
“The faster expansion at service providers was founded upon solid new order growth and a further increase in employment,” IHS Markit Eliot Kerr said.
He added that it pointed to a quarterly growth rate of 0.3% in the July-September period, unchanged from the rates seen in the previous two quarters despite slowing activity in much of the euro zone.
Paired with already published data from the manufacturing sector, the improvement in services helped push overall private sector business activity also to the highest level since last November.
IHS Markit’s composite PMI index comprising both sectors rose last month to 52.9 from 51.9 in July, which was slightly better than a preliminary reading of 52.7.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Catherine Evans)