French business activity strengthened in March by more than forecast, a monthly survey showed on Friday, as the euro zone's second-biggest economy benefited from growth in its dominant services sector.

S&P Global said its flash reading for the March purchasing managers' index (PMI) for France's services sector stood at 55.5 points, up from 53.1 in February and also beating forecasts.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a reading of 52.5 points for the flash March services PMI.

Any number above 50 points denotes an expansion in activity, while below 50 shows a contraction.

S&P Global's flash reading for the March PMI for the French manufacturing sector stood at 47.7 points.

That showed that the manufacturing sector remained in contraction, but it nevertheless marked a slight improvement from a reading of 47.4 points in February, although it came in below a Reuters forecast for 48.0 points.

The flash reading for the March composite PMI - which comprises both the services and manufacturing sectors - stood at 54.0 points, up from 51.7 in February and ahead of a Reuters forecast of 51.8 points. It also marked a 10-month high, added S&P Global.

"The second-largest economy in the euro zone is showing remarkable resilience in the face of rising interest rates and elevated inflation, and the latest PMI numbers suggest that French GDP will once again increase in the first quarter of 2023," said S&P Global Market Intelligence senior economist Joe Hayes. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Susan Fenton)