UPDATE 1-Staffing group Randstad says business recovering from pandemic hit

(Adds details, quote from CEO)

AMSTERDAM, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Global staffing major Randstad NV said on Tuesday business returned to pre-pandemic levels in January after a steady recovery in the fourth quarter as it reported core earnings and revenue in line with market expectations.

A 10% drop in underlying earnings to 264 million euros ($318.81 million) and a 5% fall in revenue to 5.69 billion euros in the period through Dec. 31, both matched analysts’ forecasts.

“Our revenue trend recovered consistently month-by-month from April to December, with activity momentum in January 2021 reaching last year’s pre-pandemic levels,” CEO Jacques van den Broek said.

The company said there had been “strong demand for essential services” in the latest quarter, creating opportunities for accelerated investment in growth and digitisation.

“At the same time, visibility remains limited with ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Van den Broek said.

In December, Randstad had said its revenues were recovering faster than expected, falling 4% in October and November on average from the previous year due to a hit in hiring from the coronavirus crisis. That compared to a 13% decline in the third quarter. ($1 = 0.8281 euros) (Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Carmel Crimmins)