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French private sector expands for 2nd straight month: PMI

[PARIS] France's private sector expanded for the second straight month in March, a survey showed on Tuesday, chiming with recent data that shows the eurozone's second-largest economy is edging back to growth.

Data compiler Markit's preliminary composite purchasing managers' index stood at 51.7 in March, only the second time since April 2014 that the reading was above the 50-point line denoting growth.

That was slightly down from February's 52.2, which was the highest reading since August 2011.

"March's PMI data show a further tentative expansion of output in France's private sector economy," Markit economist Jack Kennedy said.

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In the services sector, the PMI stood at 52.8, as forecast by analysts polled by Reuters, after February's 3-1/2-year high.

The manufacturing sector contracted slower than last month, but the 48.2 reading came in slightly lower than expectations of 48.5.

"The weakness of France has really held the eurozone recovery back and the fact that now it is seeing its best expansion since mid-2011 is one of the things that is giving us some real hope that the region's recovery is looking sustainable," Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said.



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