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French manufacturing PMI falls to break-even point in January

[PARIS] French manufacturing teetered between growth and contraction in January and export orders shrank, according to a monthly survey of company purchasing managers.

Confirming preliminary data, the final Purchasing Managers Index - where any score below 50 signals a contraction and any score above 50 indicates expansion - fell from 51.4 in December to 50.0 in January.

"A drop in new orders for the first time in four months was the primary culprit, as a generally weak demand climate and client uncertainty continued to weigh on new work inflows," said Jack Kennedy, an economist at the Markit, the consulting firm that compiles the index.

January's reading was the lowest since August, but the slowdown remained modest, Markit said in a statement.

The January score was in line with expectations after a preliminary Markit report with the same outcome.

The PMI data comes on the heels of an official statistics office estimate on Friday that French economic growth slowed in the last quarter of 2015 and that growth for last year as a whole came to a modest 1.1 per cent.

REUTERS