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French manufacturing sector returns to growth in September: PMI

FILE PHOTO: An employee works at a factory of manufacturer Valeo, in Etaples near Le Touquet, France May 26, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s manufacturing sector returned to growth in September despite the prospect of new coronavirus restrictions being brought in to curb infections, a survey showed on Wednesday.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its final purchasing managers’ index rose to 51.2 in September from 49.8 in August. That was slightly up from a preliminary reading of 50.9 and further above the 50-point line dividing expansions in activity from contractions.

The survey showed that manufacturers’ output and new orders from clients improved in September while confidence rose further despite a surge in new coronavirus cases to record levels.

IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr said that the the good momentum could be derailed if infection rates continued to climb, triggering further restrictions.

“With the winter months approaching, we may yet see a renewed tightening of restrictions which would severely hinder the progress of many firms in the manufacturing sector,” he said.

“A second lockdown would likely lead some goods producers to question the sustainability of their business models, with the virus potentially reducing factory capacity for a prolonged period,” he added.

Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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