PARIS – French business activity grew more strongly than forecast in February, according to a monthly survey, helped by an improvement in the country’s COVID-19 situation and stronger demand for goods and services.
Data compiler IHS Markit said its flash Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for France’s dominant services industry rose to 57.9 points from 53.1 in January, beating a forecast which had predicted 53.6 points for that flash February number.
The index moved further above the 50 points threshold which marks an expansion in activity.
The February flash PMI number for France’s manufacturing sector rose to 57.6 points from 55.5 in January, and also beat a forecast of 55.5 points.
The composite February PMI number for France – which includes both the manufacturing and services sectors – rose to 57.4 points from 52.7 in January, beating a forecast for 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 COVID restrictions gradually being eased.
Earlier this month, France eased some restrictions on travellers coming into the country who hold a COVID vaccine certificate, which could help tourism in France.
“The slump in January proved to be short-lived as business activity growth accelerated sharply in February to its strongest since last June,” said IHS Markit senior economist Joe Hayes.
“Now that the trajectory of COVID-19 in France is on the downturn, this should continue to facilitate greater activity levels across both sectors,” added Hayes.