The Paris stock market gained nearly 0.3% this morning, around 8180 points, helped by Renault (+3.5%) and Eurofins Scientific (+1.9%).
Investors this morning took note of a series of statistics.

The HCOB PMI composite index of overall activity rose from 48.1 in February to 48.3 in March, signalling the smallest drop in French private sector activity since the start of the current contraction ten months ago.

In contrast to the contraction in activity, the contraction in the overall volume of new business accelerated in the private sector as a whole, reflecting an accentuation of the downturn in demand in both the manufacturing and service sectors.

In addition, at 50.3 in March, compared with 49.2 in February, the HCOB composite PMI index of overall activity in the eurozone climbed above the 50 mark unchanged for the first time since May 2023, signalling a return to growth in the private sector.

The expansion in activity observed in March was only marginal, however, as continued contraction in the manufacturing sector offset the impact of only moderate growth in the services sector.

Investors' attention will also begin to turn to the US, on the eve of the monthly Labor Department report, which could reignite the debate on the need for further rate cuts by the Fed.

Yesterday's better-than-expected results from ADP's private-sector employment survey called this scenario into question, but the weakness of the manufacturing ISM seems to argue in favor of monetary easing.

Ahead of the jobs report, investors will be watching the weekly US jobless claims figures at 2.30pm.

Investors will also continue to keep a close eye on the impact of rising oil prices, with a barrel of US light crude (West Texas Intermediate, WTI) now peaking at its highest level since October.

Buy positions on oil (Brent and WTI) are at a five-month high", comment the teams at DeftHedge, a developer of decision-support software for currency and commodity risk management.

"The cause: uncertainty over Russian supplies, which has led to a sharp rise in diesel prices over the past few sessions", point out the platform's analysts.

Gold is following suit, reaching new all-time highs above $2,300 an ounce, with buying interest continuing unabated.

'Even individual investors, who were previously positioned on the sell side, are getting in on the act', stresses DeftHedge. Over the past week, investment funds have strengthened their buying positions", says the risk manager.

In news from French companies, Solutions30 reports negative net income (group share) of -22.7 million euros for the past year, but a clear turnaround compared with 2022 (-50.1 million), with adjusted EBITDA margin improving by 190 basis points to 7.1%.

For 2023, Synergie reports a 10.6% drop in net income (group share) to €74.9 million, and a 5.6% decline in EBITDA to €153.2 million, due in particular to the slowdown in certain markets with a greater economic impact (including France).

Gaussin, which is experiencing difficulties, announced on Thursday that it had obtained a safeguard procedure to guarantee the company's future and maintain employment.

Finally, on Thursday, Renault presented the new generation of its city 4X4, the 'Captur', a model that is now one of the best-selling vehicles in the urban SUV segment in France.

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