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French business activity picks up

PARIS, Nov 23 – French business activity picked up for the first time in four months in November, helped by a significant increase in new orders, a key reading for the future, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) compiled by financial information group Markit stood at 56.8 points for November, up 1.9 points from October when it had fallen to 13-month low.

The November reading showed "the first pick-up in French business activity in four months," Markit economist Jack Kennedy said, noting a sustained gain in manufacturing.

The biggest increase in new orders for more than 10 years was a particularly good sign, Kennedy said.

In the services sector, there was also an improvement but new business was growing more slowly than in the last 15 months, he added.

Kennedy said the employment situation continues to improve in the French private sector overall, reflecting an improvement in confidence in the recovery which allows some hope for an upturn in consumption soon.

In industry, the survey showed the strongest gains in employment since July 2007, he added.

Thye purchasing managers index is closely watched as a leading indicator of underlying trends in industry and business.

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