PARIS (Reuters) - French service activity gained further momentum in May as new orders kept flowing in and
companies stepped up the pace of hiring, a monthly survey showed on Monday.
Data compiler IHS Markit said its purchasing managers index for France's dominant service sector rose to 57.2 from 56.7 in April, down from than a preliminary reading of 58.0.
The increase put the index within a hair of a six-year high reached in March and marked the 11th straight month of expansion in activity - indicated by a reading over 50.
IHS Markit's overall PMI index, which includes services and manufacturing, rose to 56.9 from 56.6 in April, down from the 57.6 originally reported.
Service providers saw the flow of new orders grow for the 15th month in a row, although at the slowest pace in four
months. IHS Markit said companies reported low interest rates and strong client demand had supported new orders as companies continued to cut prices in the face of competitive pressure.
"Of particular note, the data highlighted the sharpest round of service sector job creation in over six years which, in turn, will boost hopes of another fall in the country's official unemployment rate," IHS Markit economist Alex Gill said.
"Indeed, with the rate of backlog accumulation the steepest since May 2011, combined with a marked degree of business
optimism, indicators suggest employment will continue to rise in the months ahead," he added.
Reporting by Leigh Thomas, editing by Larry King