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French service sector grows in April but manufacturing weakens, PMI shows

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (Reuters) - France's dominant services sector expanded in April for the first time in almost a year, helping offset continued weakness in manufacturing, according to a monthly survey.

The HCOB flash purchasing managers index (PMI) for France's services sector, compiled by S&P Global, rose to 50.5 points in April from 48.3 in March, beating a Reuters poll forecast of 48.9 points.

Any figure above 50 marks an expansion in activity, and April's reading was the first time France's services sector had breached that threshold since May 2023.

By contrast, the manufacturing flash PMI fell to 44.9 points from 46.2 in March, below a Reuters' forecast of 46.9 points.

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The April composite flash PMI - which comprises both the services and manufacturing sectors - rose to 49.9 points from 48.3 in March, beating a Reuters forecast for 48.8 points.

"Services activity grew for the first time since May 2023, when large protests started to drive negative economic sentiment," said Hamburg Commercial Bank economist Norman Liebke.

"Because demand was strong in April, backlogs of work declined at a slower pace compared to the previous month. French manufacturing output stays subdued, but we expect it will soon follow the path of the services sector," he added.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Christina Fincher)