French manufacturing grows at fastest rate in 20 years in May – PMI

FILE PHOTO: An employee works on the automobile assembly line of Bluecar electric city cars at Renault car maker factory in Dieppe, western France, September 1, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – French manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest rate in more than two decades in May as firms struggled to work off backlogs built up during the coronavirus pandemic, a survey showed on Tuesday.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its final purchasing managers’ index rose to 59.4 from 58.9 in April, hitting the highest level since September 2000.

That was even slightly better than a preliminary reading of 59.2 and took the index further above the 50-point line dividing expansions in activity from contractions.

Manufacturers ramped up production a notch as the country emerged from its third national lockdown in the middle of the month, with backlogs at their highest point since November 2006.

“The key challenge now for firms is being able to keep up with workloads,” IHS Markit economics director Andrew Harker said.

“This is proving to be a struggle amid severe supply-chain delays and a lack of material availability. As a result, levels of backlogged work are rising sharply,” he added.

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