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French Business Activity Contracts more than Expected in Dec -flash PMI

PARIS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - French business activity declined faster than expected in December, a survey showed on Friday, as demand for goods and services in the euro zone's second-biggest economy deteriorated further.

The HCOB France flash Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the country's dominant services sector, compiled by S&P Global, came in at 44.3 points in December, a 37-month low.

The index has now stayed below the 50 level that marks growth in activity for seven months running.

A Reuters poll forecast for the December flash services PMI stood at 46.0 and the final November figure was at 45.4

The flash manufacturing PMI for this month fell to 42.0 points - a 43-month low - from 42.9 in November, and also came in below a Reuters poll forecast of 43.3 points.

The flash December composite PMI - which comprises both the services and manufacturing sectors - slipped to 43.7 points from 44.6 in November, and again below a forecast for a figure of 45.0 points.

"The French economy is sinking into the recession quagmire, with HCOB Flash PMIs painting a disconcerting picture in December of the second-largest EU economy. Both the services and manufacturing sector contractions have intensified compared to the previous month," said Tariq Kamal Chaudhry, economist at Hamburg Commercial Bank.

"French industry, in particular, expressed concerns about future prospects. Domestic and international orders are plummeting, signalling trouble for employment as job losses extended," he said.

On Thursday, France's INSEE statistics agency cut its 2023 growth forecast from 0.9% to 0.8%, short of the 1% that the government has built its budget planning around and leaving the euro zone's second-biggest economy on a fragile footing heading into 2024.

Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Susan Fenton

Source: Reuters

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