French business morale rebounds in August despite surging COVID-19 cases - Metro US

French business morale rebounds in August despite surging COVID-19 cases

Tourist wears a protective mask as she looks at her mobile phone at the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris as the country is hit by the new coronavirus

PARIS (Reuters) – French business confidence rebounded in August to its highest since France went into a coronavirus lockdown despite a resurgence of new infections, a survey showed on Thursday.

INSEE, the official statistics agency, said its monthly business sentiment index rose to 91 from 84, reaching its highest since March, when midway through the month the government put France under one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.

Business confidence has rebounded since the government began lifting the lockdown on May 11 as companies struggled to respond to pent-up demand from clients.

INSEE said that the survey showed business’ leaders personal outlooks had eased in August despite the overall improvement, suggesting that much of the recovery in activity had already run its course.

“The speed of the catch-up could as a result slow in the coming months,” INSEE said in a note accompanying the survey.

The overall rebound in business confidence came as the government struggled this month to contain a surge in new COVID-19 cases as the French went on summer holiday.

That has fuelled fears of a second wave of infections heading into the winter, which could derail France’s economic recovery after a record recession in the first half of the year.

In a second quarterly survey, INSEE said that industrial companies had indicated they intended to cut investment this year by 11%, down from a reduction of 7% expected the last time the survey was conducted, in April.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas, editing by Larry King)

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