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[PARIS] The pace of contraction in France's manufacturing sector eased in March, according to the monthly purchasing managers' index collated by the Markit consultancy.
The headline index released on Wednesday for activity in the sector came in at 48.8, up from a February reading of 47.6 as shrinkage in the level of new orders slowed. That was also up from a preliminary estimate of 48.2.
With the government hoping that a long-awaited recovery is finally kicking in, the PMI poll appeared to suggest the worst might be over for manufacturers and for employment in industry.
"Staffing levels at French manufacturers continued to fall in March, extending the current period of contraction to 12 months. However, the rate of decline eased to a marginal pace that was the weakest since April 2014," a Markit statement said.
The preliminary data had painted a grimmer picture of manufacturing but a second month of growth in private sector activity overall thanks to a solid expansion in the larger services sector.