France's private sector contraction has eased slightly this month, a survey showed today.

But new business has dropped at the fastest rate in over a year, suggesting conditions may worsen again next month. 

Markit's preliminary composite purchasing managers' index, covering the services and manufacturing sectors that account for more than two-thirds of the economy, stood at 48.4 in November, just up from October's eight-month low of 48.2. 

But the manufacturing index fell to a three-month low of 47.6, well below a Reuters consensus forecast for 48.8, after dropping to 48.5 last month. 

"The corporate sector is very much in decline, stuck there, and not showing any sign of reviving," Markit economist Chris Williamson said.

He added that the euro zone's second-largest economy might contract by 0.1% in the fourth quarter. 

France's services sector index rose by half a point to 48.8, slightly better than a forecast for 48.5 but still below the 50 point line denoting growth. 

While business expectations in the service sector improved, new orders fell at the fastest rate since June 2013. 

"This suggests the downturn may gather momentum again in December," Williamson said. 

He also said there was no reason to believe there would be a repeat of the strong revision in the manufacturing index that occurred in last month's final reading.