France: GDP growth confirmed in Q4
March 28, 2012
In the fourth quarter, GDP rose a seasonally and working-day adjusted 0.2% over the previous quarter, confirming the preliminary estimate released on 15 February. Although the reading was below the 0.3% increase recorded in the third quarter, it defied market expectations of a 0.1% drop. On an annual basis, the economy expanded 1.4% in the fourth quarter, down from the 1.5% annual rise recorded in the third. For the full year 2011, GDP expanded 1.7%, faster than 2010's 1.4% increase. The fourth quarter expansion was driven by an improvement in the external sector. The external sector's net contribution to overall growth rose from 0.1 percentage points in the third quarter to 0.6 percentage points in the fourth, as exports outpaced imports. Exports of goods and services rose 1.2%, unchanged from the previous quarter, while imports contracted 1.0% (Q3 2011: +0.6% quarter-on-quarter). Meanwhile, private consumption rose 0.2% over the previous period (Q3 2011: +0.3% qoq), while gross fixed investment rose 1.1% (Q3 2011: +0.2% qoq). That said, the contribution of inventory changes worsened, from minus 0.1 percentage points in the third quarter to minus 0.8 percentage points in the fourth. The government recently upgraded its growth forecast for this year to 0.7% from a previous 0.5%. In 2013, the economy may will expand 1.75%, according to the Finance Ministry.