French business activity stronger than expected in June

French business activity perked up unexpectedly in June as a stronger than expected service sector made up for a softer manufacturing sector, data compiler IHS Markit said in its preliminary composite purchasing managers index. (Reuters)
Updated 22 June 2018
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French business activity stronger than expected in June

PARIS: French business activity perked up unexpectedly in June as a stronger than expected service sector made up for a softer manufacturing sector, a survey published on Friday showed.
Data compiler IHS Markit said its preliminary composite purchasing managers index, comprising both sectors, rose in June to 55.6 from 54.2 in May.
That beat economists’ average expectations in a Reuters poll for a stable reading and brought the index further away from the 50-point line dividing an expansion in activity from a contraction.
IHS Markit economist Paul Smith said that the reading was consistent with quarterly economic growth of 0.3 percent this quarter.
“France’s economy showed noticeably divergent trends at the end of the second quarter, with the manufacturing and service sectors heading in markedly different growth directions,” Smith said.
While the dominant, more domestically focused service sector was benefitting from improved demand at home, manufacturers were seeing weaker export demand as well as growing price pressures, he said.
The service sector PMI rose to 56.4 from 54.3 in May, easily beating economists’ expectations on average for a steady reading of 54.3.
Meanwhile, in the manufacturing sector, the PMI eased back to a 16-month low 53.1 from 54.4 in May, falling short of expectations for a reading of 53.9.
The flow of manufacturers’ new orders was the weakest since February 2017 but capacity pressures kept factories busy working off backlogs of unfinished work.
Meanwhile, in the service sector, IHS Markit said panellists reported success turning firmer market demand into new contract wins.


US pushes sanctions to send Putin message on election interference

Republican US Senators Marco Rubio (L) and Lindsey Graham are seen in this combination photo from US Senate hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington, US on March 14, 2018 and on June 18, 2018 respectively. (REUTERS)
Updated 4 min 54 sec ago
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US pushes sanctions to send Putin message on election interference

WASHINGTON: A pair of prominent Republican US senators said on Sunday that the United States needs to prepare new sanctions against Russia to discourage interference in upcoming elections.
Senator Lindsey Graham said additional sanctions must be teed up before President Donald Trump holds a second meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the US leader came under heavy criticism for failing to confront Putin about interference in the 2016 election at a summit last Monday.
“You need to work with Congress to come up with new sanctions because Putin’s not getting the message,” Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We need new sanctions, heavy-handed sanctions, hanging over his head, and then meet with him.”
Undaunted by the backlash in his own party to his first meeting, Trump invited Putin to a White House meeting sometime this fall. Congressional midterm elections will take place in November.
Senator Marco Rubio wants a vote on a bill called DETER that would impose new sanctions if US intelligence officials determine Russia meddled in US elections. Rubio co-authored the legislation with Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, a bipartisan effort revived by the fallout of last week’s summit.
“What I think is indisputable is that they did interfere and they will do so in the future,” Rubio said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“If our bill passes and the director of national intelligence says they interfered in 2018, these very tough sanctions will hit them. So Putin knows going in, what the price of doing so is.”
Putin has denied that Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election after the US intelligence community concluded Russia interfered through cyberattacks and social media in a bid to boost Trump’s candidacy.
Under pressure from Congress, which last year passed a tough sanctions law targeting Russia, the US Treasury in April imposed sanctions on Russian officials and oligarchs for election meddling and “malign” activities.
The DETER Act would make sanctions more automatic. The US director of national intelligence would be required to conclude if any foreign nations interfered in elections one month after Americans cast their votes, triggering strict sanctions within 10 days if interference was detected.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week identified the bill as a potential step Congress could take in the coming days to push back against Russia as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for sanctions and other deterrents.
But the US oil and gas industry is lobbying against the bill due to worries that heightened sanctions could impact US investments in Russia, congressional sources said.