PARIS (Reuters) – French manufacturing growth eased in December compared with the previous month, a survey showed on Thursday, as the euro zone’s second-biggest economy grapples with signs of a slowdown.
The final Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturers slipped to 50.4 in December from 51.7 in November, data compiler IHS Markit said. November had marked a five-month high. Readings above 50 signal growth in activity.
IHS Markit added that while there had been an improvement in business conditions in French manufacturing in December, the rate of improvement had been the slowest for three months.
The slowdown comes as a nationwide strike cripples France’s transport system as trade unions protest against plans by President Emmanuel Macron to overhaul the national pension system.
“Following two promising months in October and November, growth in the French manufacturing sector stuttered during December,” said IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr.
“The latest data revealed only a marginal increase in production and a fresh contraction in new business. This led firms to cease hiring efforts and reduce their purchases of inputs,” added Kerr.
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(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Hugh Lawson)