French business confidence stabilized in February at a level last seen in March 2010, as improvement in production expectations was offset by worsening export orders and past production.
The confidence index for the manufacturing sector scored 92 in February, unchanged from January's revised reading, survey results from the statistical office Insee showed Monday. Economists had expected the index to post a score of 92, up from January's original score of 91.
Business leaders considered that their activity slowed down in the past. The general production outlook, which represents business leaders' opinion on the French industry as a whole, improved during the month, but stayed below its long-term average.
The corresponding index rose to -27 from -36 in the previous month. Economists had expected the index to remain at around the January level. An index for personal production expectations rose to -2 from -5 in January, the survey report showed.
Stocks of finished products dropped slightly to 15 from 16 a month ago. Total orders stopped the downtrend, but stayed comparatively low.
The index for demand and total order levels rose by 2 points to -26. Meanwhile, demand and export order levels fell to -33 from -26.
In services, the overall confidence index remained at 91 points for the third month in February.
According to the Bank of France survey, the business confidence index for the industrial sector held steady at 96 in January. The bank expects gross domestic product to remain stable in the first quarter of 2012.
The government targets 0.5 percent economic growth for this year. At the end of 2011, the French economy logged an unexpected growth underpinned by investment and trade. GDP was up 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.
The Purchasing Managers' survey showed a modest growth in the private sector as expansion in services was partially offset by another round of decline in manufacturing production. Nonetheless, business activity growth reached a five-month high.
by RTT Staff Writer
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