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French services sector growth picked up in December: PMI

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s dominant services sector enjoyed a pick-up in growth in December, a survey showed on Monday, as the euro zone’s second-biggest economy grapples with a nationwide strike and slower growth in other areas.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its purchasing managers index for the services sector rose to 52.4 in December from 52.2 in November, unchanged from a preliminary reading.

The index rose further above the 50-point line dividing expansions in activity from contractions.

However, IHS Markit’s overall composite PMI index, which includes the services and manufacturing sectors, slipped to 52.0 from 52.1 in November, reflecting slower manufacturing growth.

“The French service sector ended 2019 with a slightly quicker rise in business activity. The result locked in a solid rate of output expansion for the final quarter of the year, which was supported by strong new order growth throughout,” said IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr.

“Faster headline growth at service providers helped offset stuttering manufacturing production and ensured the pace of expansion in composite activity was little-changed from November. Taking into account PMI results from the final three months of the year, the data point to economic growth of approximately 0.4% in the fourth quarter,” added Kerr.

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(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Hugh Lawson)