[PARIS] France's service businesses returned to growth in April as they cut prices further, helping overall business activity to keep expanding despite weakness in manufacturing, a survey showed on Wednesday.
Data compiler Markit said its purchasing managers index for services rose in April to 50.6 from 49.9 in March, slightly worse than a preliminary reading of 50.8.
Boosted by the fastest growth in new business since November as companies cut prices amid tough competition, the index rose above the 50-point threshold dividing an expansion in activity from a contraction.
Markit's overall PMI index, which comprises the service figures and manufacturing data previously published, edged up to 50.2 from 50.0 in March, slightly worse than the 50.5 originally reported.
"The improved trend in the service sector during April offset a faltering manufacturing sector performance, with a firmer trend in incoming new business supporting the upturn," Markit economist Jack Kennedy said.
Manufacturing activity slowed in April to its weakest pace in a year as demand weakened despite steep price cuts in the face of strong competitive pressures, Markit's monthly survey for the sector showed on Monday.