France Economic Outlook
GDP growth softened for a second successive time in quarter-on-quarter terms in Q4. The weaker expansion was driven by a contraction in private consumption. Moreover, fixed investment and export growth declined. That said, growth in public spending more than doubled. In 2023, the economy should slow further and remain flat in Q1. Increased inflation in January and February, along with downbeat consumer confidence in the quarter compared to Q4, suggests private spending is likely to decline in the quarter. In addition, higher interest rates are dampening fixed investment, notably in the construction sector, while industrial production contracted in January. Meanwhile, ongoing strikes against the adopted pension reform could slightly dent output in March. That said, the PMI rose in the quarter through March amid increasing new orders, with the latest print coming in at its highest level since May 2022.
Harmonized inflation rose to 7.3% in February (January: 7.0%) due to stronger food and housing price pressures. In 2023, inflation should ease but at a softer rate than in neighboring countries: The phasing-out of government subsidies mean high energy costs will linger. Factors to watch include commodity price swings and changes to government subsidies.