An index measuring French manufacturing activity jumped to a 20-month high in March, powered by a surge in the volume of new orders, the research group NTC/CDAF reported April 3. The group said its purchasing managers' index of manufacturing activity rose to 54.6 points last month from 52.2 in February.
A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in the sector while a score below 50 reflects a contraction.
"Production increased for the 10th straight month, with the rate of growth at its highest level since September 2004," NTC Research said.NTC Research in a statement cited the new orders component of the index, "which recorded its sharpest increase in 21 months."
"Overseas sales acted as a strong stimulation to new orders worldwide," which showed their biggest gains in five and a half years, the group added.
At the same time, a decline in manufacturing employment continued in March but at its weakest monthly pace in nine months.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006