Bloomberg

French Recovery Fades as Manufacturing, Services Contract

Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

An employee removes excess felt from berets inside the factory of 174-year-old… Read More

French manufacturing and services unexpectedly shrank this month, highlighting President Francois Hollande’s struggle to revive the euro area’s second-largest economy.

A Purchasing Managers Index of factory activity dropped to 49.3 from 51.2 in April, while a services gauge fell to 49.2 from 50.4, Markit Economics said today in London. Economists had forecast readings above 50, the level that divides expansion from contraction.

Hollande is grappling with an economy that stagnated in the first quarter as both investment and consumer spending fell. After two years in office, his government has yet to achieve two consecutive quarters of expansion, a performance that has driven jobless claims to an all-time high of 3.3 million and his own popularity to a record low.

 

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French economy contracts while rest of eurozone keeps expanding

The headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Germany.

The strong pace of growth in the eurozone’s private sector eased very slightly this month, with drastic price cuts preventing any further slowdown, surveys showed yesterday.

Slower growth in activity at factories took the shine off an unexpected pickup in the service industry, although the bloc’s recovery appears to be gaining traction.

“This doesn’t change the picture of the eurozone having one of its best growth spells in the past three years. It’s broad-based – with the one exception being France,” said Rob Dobson, senior economist at survey compiler Markit.

Markit’s Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, based on surveys of thousands of companies across the region and seen as a good indicator of growth, edged down to 53.9 from April’s near three-year high of 54.0, matching the forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

 

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Eurozone’s 18-month-long recession may be over, economic surveys suggest

French factories

The Osram factory in Molsheim. French factories returned to growth with their strongest performance in 17 months. Photograph: AFP/Getty

Hopes of a recovery in the eurozone were lifted after private sector firms across the region reported a rise in output for the first time in 18 months, leading to predictions that the single currency bloc is on the cusp of exiting recession.

A strong performance by German manufacturers and a halt to the headlong decline in French business activity gave the eurozone a much needed boost after the area slipped into reverse last year.

With the US manufacturing sector expanding at a faster pace in July, the main blot on the global economic recovery was a decline in manufacturing output in China that some economists have warned could force Beijing to renew its stimulus spending or risk a hard landing.

China’s manufacturing sector tempered the eurozone data, slowing to an 11-month low as new orders faltered and the job market darkened.

The flash HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 47.7 this month from June’s final reading of 48.2, marking a third straight month below the 50 threshold between expansion and contraction for China.

As if to highlight concerns that global growth is slowing, Caterpillar, the US construction and mining business that is considered a bellwether of global business activity, downgraded its forecast for the pace of the global recovery this year and next.

Alexandra Knight, an economist at National Australia Bank, said the weak Chinese PMI posed a problem for countries that relied on exports to China.

“It adds to the concern about the outlook for demand, and brings into question just how strong Chinese commodities demand will be,” she said.

 

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