Locked France records record production drop in April: PMI

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PARIS – French manufacturing activity plunged into its deepest recession on record in April as the second eurozone economy contracted more when the coronavirus shutdown, an investigation revealed on Monday.

IHS data compiler Markit said his final purchasing manager index fell to 31.5 in April from 43.2 in March, according to a preliminary reading.

The freefall plunged the index to its lowest level since the records started in 1998, well below the 50-point line between expanding activity and contractions.

France has been subject to blocking orders banning non-essential activities since mid-March. The prospect of a gradual unwinding from May 11 offers little relief to companies expecting a long return to work.

“Businesses were very pessimistic about the business outlook,” said Eliot Kerr, economist at IHS Markit.

“Being cautious about a second outbreak will likely limit the rate at which normalcy will resume, so we can expect any recovery to occur,” he added.

Executives polled by IHS Markit said they are downsizing at the fastest rate ever, with new orders almost dry up.

The economy suffered its deepest recession on records dating back to 1949 in the first quarter, shrinking 5.8% from the previous three months, the statistics agency INSEE announced on Thursday.

(Report by Leigh Thomas; edited by Hugh Lawson)

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