July 3, 2020 / 8:17 AM / a month ago

French service sector returns to growth in June: PMI

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask walks past tables and chairs installed on a terrace with social distancing signs on the pavement at a restaurant in Paris as restaurants and cafes reopen following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France, June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French service sector activity returned to growth in June as the country’s coronavirus lockdown was further eased, boosting overall business activity, a survey showed on Friday.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its purchasing managers index (PMI) for services rose to 50.7 from 31.1 in May, better than a preliminary reading of 50.3.

The index thus rose above the 50-point threshold dividing expansions in activity from contractions for the first time since February, before the coronavirus outbreak reached France.

The government imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe in mid-March, forcing most service providers to temporarily shut down their businesses until restrictions began to be lifted on May 11.

Combined with already published data for the manufacturing sector, the overall PMI index covering both sectors rose to 51.7 from 32.1 in May, better than the 51.3 originally reported.

“Although the recovery was predominantly driven by manufacturers, service providers also posted an expansion in activity,” IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr said.

“That said, sub-sector data showed that services firms that are reliant on face-to-face interactions, such as hotels and restaurants, continued to suffer,” he added.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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