PARIS, (Reuters) - French manufacturers ended 2016 on a strong note with activity at a 5-1/2 year high in December while hiring and new orders jumped, a monthly survey showed on Monday.
Data compiler IHS Markit said its final purchasing managers' index rose to 53.5 in December from 51.7 in November, unchanged from a preliminary reading.
The increase brought the index to its highest level since May 2011 and marked the third month in a row above the 50-point line dividing expansions in activity from contractions.
"Favorable demand conditions had encouraged firms to raise output, which resulted in the sharpest round of job creation in 5-1/2 years," IHS Markit economist Alexander Gill said.
"These are positive signs for France as the country contends with high levels of unemployment," he added.
Companies increased staffing levels as the flow of new orders grew at the strongest pace since May 2011, suggesting the spurt of activity in December may be more than a month-long blip.
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Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson