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French economy contracted in November - flash PMI

People walk at the financial and business district of La Defense in Courbevoie

PARIS (Reuters) - France's private sector economy contracted in November for the first time since February 2021, according to a monthly survey, as lower new orders weighed on the euro zone's second-biggest economy.

S&P Global's flash purchasing managers index (PMI) for France's services sector fell to 49.4 points from 51.7 in October. Any reading above 50 points shows growth while figures below 50 show a contraction.

The figure was also below a Reuters poll which had forecast 50.6 points.

The flash November PMI figure for France's manufacturing sector rose to 49.1 points from 47.2 in October. It beat a Reuters poll forecast for 47.0 points but was nevertheless still below the 50 points mark and therefore remaining a contraction.

The flash November composite PMI figure - which comprises both the manufacturing and services sectors - fell to 48.8 points from 50.2 in October, and was also below a Reuters poll forecast of 49.5 points.

"Although France’s manufacturing sector has been in a downturn since the start of the second half of 2022, overall economic activity levels throughout this period had been propped up by continued growth in services. This vital support for the economy looks to have ended as service sector output fell for the first time in just over a year-and-a-half in November," said Joe Hayes, senior economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

"As a consequence, 'flash' PMI data pointed to the first reduction in French economic activity since February 2021," added Hayes.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Toby Chopra)