French manufacturers are deeply gloomy about their business prospects, official data showed on Tuesday, putting their confidence at the lowest since 2010.
The latest data, for September, from the national statistics institute INSEE, was unchanged from the showing in August.
The confidence index compiled by INSEE gave a reading of 90, far below the average long-term average of 100 points but slightly better than 89 in July.
INSEE said that business leaders in the manufacturing sector indicated that their past activity fell sharply but that their order books are picking up.
Orders placed from abroad were stable but not strong. Inventories of finished goods were steady.
Manufacturers were gloomy about the outlook for production, reporting that their activity would continue to be flat in coming months, INSEE said.
The overall view of manufacturers about the prospects for the industrial sector worsened sharply in September from prospects in August and was close to extremely low levels in 2009.
Meanwhile, figures from the housing ministry showed that the rate of construction of new homes fell by 10.3% from June to August compared with the number in the same period of last year.
The number of building permits issued also fell, by 1.2% in the same period.
Economics professor at Paris-Ouest university, Michel Mouillart, an expert on housing, told AFP: "For a quarter of a century and since the beginning of monthly statistics, the figure for the beginning of construction of apartments has never been so low."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012