French energy and transportation group Alstom posted on Tuesday an increase in third-quarter orders and sales, said it "should show a solid commercial performance over the current fiscal year," and maintained its three-year outlook. Alstom's statement provided another indication that global economic activity is improving. In the three months from October through December, Alstom booked 5.1 billion euros ($6.8 billion) in new orders, along with 4.9 billion euros in sales. "In an environment that remains challenging, we achieved a solid third quarter 2012/13," chairman and chief executive Patrick Kron noted in a statement. "Thanks to our current dynamic commercial activity, we expect order intake to be strong in the fourth quarter with sales continuing their recovery," he added. "Alstom confirms its three-year guidance and anticipates a positive free cash flow for the second half of the current fiscal year," the statement said. In November, Alstom said it was aiming for annual sales growth of more than five percent, a progressive improvement in its profit margin to around eight percent for the 2014/14 fiscal year, and a positive free cash flow each year.