PARIS (Reuters) – French business activity expanded at a slower than expected pace in September as manufacturing sector growth eased to a near standstill, a survey showed on Monday.
Data compiler IHS Markit said its preliminary purchasing managers index fell to 51.3 from 52.9 in August, coming in below the 52.7 economists polled by Reuters had expected on average.
The reading was the softest in four months, although the index remained above the key 50-point threshold between expansions and contractions in activity.
The weakness was driven by the manufacturing sector, where activity barely stayed in expansion territory with a reading of 50.3 after 51.1 in August. It fell short of an average forecast for 51.2.
The dominant service sector held up better, but was also softer than economists had expected at 51.6 after 53.4 in August, falling short of forecasts for 53.2 on average.
“With services firms registering their slowest rise in activity since May, fears of negative spill-over effects from the manufacturing sector are coming to fruition,” IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr said.
“Any intensification of such effects would likely dampen economic growth going forward,” he added.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson)