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French business activity slumped in November on new lockdown - PMI

·1-min read
Skyline of La Defense business district

PARIS (Reuters) - French business activity retreated in November in the face of a new coronavirus lockdown that hit the already suffering service sector particularly hard, a monthly survey showed on Thursday.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its composite purchasing managers index for France fell to 40.6 from 47.5 in October, slightly better than a preliminary reading of 39.9.

The reading was the worst since May and brought the index farther away from the 50-point threshold dividing an expansion in activity from a contraction.

The government imposed on Oct. 30 its second nationwide lockdown this year in the face of a resurgence of new COVID-19 infections, but has in recent days eased some restrictions after new case numbers fell.

"The measures imposed at the end of October to stem the rate of COVID-19 infections saw activity and new orders fall sharply during November," IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr said.

"Similar to the trend when lockdown measures were imposed during the spring, activity fell most sharply at services firms, with Hotels & Restaurants experiencing a particularly steep decline," he added.

The PMI index for the dominant services sector fell to 38.8 from 46.5 in October, hitting its lowest level since May but coming in slightly better than a preliminary reading of 38.0.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson)