French private sector activity contracted at the sharpest rate in nearly 22 years in March, flash survey data from IHS Markit showed Tuesday.
The composite output index declined to a record low 30.2 in March from 51.9 in February. The reading was well below 39.8. A score below 50 indicates contraction in the sector.
The reduction was broad-based, but faster at service providers who recorded their quickest decline since data collection began in May 1998.
The services Purchasing Managers' Index came in at a record low 29.0 in March versus 52.6 in the previous month. The expected reading was 42.0.
The manufacturing PMI dropped to an 86-month low of 42.9 versus 49.7 a month ago. Economists had forecast a score of 40.0.
Eliot Kerr, an economist at IHS Markit said, "The latest PMI data revealed dismal results for the French private sector, with coronavirus-driven shutdowns leading to widespread economic disruption."
Readings suggest GDP is collapsing at an annualized rate approaching double digits, the economist added.