Survey shows French protests knocked business

PARIS (AP) — A survey suggests the “yellow vest” protests in France have dealt a significant blow to business activity in the country’s services sector, which includes tourism and retail.

The so-called purchasing managers’ index, which measures activity in various parts of an economy, fell to 49.6 points in December for France’s services sector. That is down sharply from November’s 55.1 points. The index, published Friday by data firm IHS Markit, is on a 100-point scale, with the 50 mark separating expansion from contraction.

Eliot Kerr, economist at IHS Markit, said the data points to “an outright contraction in France’s private sector for the first time in two-and-a-half years, following the protests which have swept through the country in recent weeks.”

The “yellow vest” protests began as demonstrations against a fuel tax and have expanded into sometimes violent marches across the country to protest the policies of President Emmanuel Macron.