[PARIS] French manufacturing activity slowed in March as the flow of new orders weakened even though companies cut their prices at the fastest rate in six years, a survey showed on Friday.
Data compiler Markit said its final purchasing managers'index fell to 49.6 in March from 50.2 in February, in line with a preliminary reading.
It is the first time since last August that the index has been below the 50-point line denoting expansions in activity.
Although output improved slightly, new orders fell at the sharpest pace since August as firms fought to hold on to market share despite price cuts in the face of weak demand. "Manufacturers shed jobs at the fastest pace since the end of 2014, suggesting an expectation that the sector's struggles will continue," Markit senior economist Jack Kennedy said.
The weakness in the sector contrasts with recent consumer spending figures which unexpectedly surged in February, according to the INSEE statistics agency on Thursday.