French service sector slows, index points to pick-up

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French service sector activity, an important pointer to economic health, showed signs of slowing further in October to hit a 14-month low level but there were signs of improvement ahead, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) compiled by financial information group Markit fell to 55.2 points in October from 56 in September, showing the pace of growth slowing steadily.

The index is an important leading indicator of economic performance. Any reading above 50 points to an expansion and one below to a contraction.

Markit economist Jack Kennedy said that although activity slowed, there was an improvement in new orders which could be positive for the coming months.

The index for new orders was at its highest point for six months in October, with export orders at their strongest since June, the survey showed.

At the same time, the employment situation stabilised in October and this too seemed to reflect a pick-up in business confidence, Kennedy said.

© 2010 AFP

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