October 24, 2018 / 7:19 AM / 25 days ago

French business growth expanded in October: PMI

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the Eiffel Tower and the financial and business district in La Defense, west of Paris, France November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS, (Reuters) - - French business activity grew in October from the previous month, a survey showed on Wednesday, as strength in services offset weakness in manufacturing in the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.

Data compiler IHS Markit said the preliminary reading for its composite purchasing managers index rose to 54.3 points in October from a final reading of 54.0 points for September, beating a Reuters forecast for a measure of 53.8 points.

IHS Markit’s chief business economist, Chris Williamson, said the figures suggested France was on track for fourth- quarter economic growth of 0.4 percent, although the weakness in manufacturing, caused partly by trade wars, was a worry.

“Overall, the composite number suggests the French economy is growing at a reasonable rate at the start of the fourth quarter,” Williamson said. “Our concern is that future growth will wane in services unless you see an upturn in manufacturing.”

France eked out quarterly growth of only 0.2 percent in the first two quarters of the year as strikes curbed activity, while warm spring weather kept energy spending low.

Earlier this month, the country’s official statistics body, INSEE, said French economic growth would rise to 0.5 percent in the third quarter and come in at 0.4 percent in the final three months, while tax cuts could give a further fillip.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, editing by Larry King

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