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France: GDP growth stalls in first quarter

June 29, 2012

According to revised data released on 29 June, GDP growth was flat in the first quarter in seasonally adjusted terms, which confirmed the preliminary flash estimate released on 15 May. The result followed the 0.1% increase recorded in the fourth quarter and was in line with market expectations. Compared to the same period last year, the economy expanded 0.3% in the first quarter, weaker than the 1.2% annual rise recorded in the previous quarter.

The revised first quarter reading continued to reflect soft growth in domestic demand, which was offset by a deterioration in the external sector. Total consumption grew 0.3% in the first quarter, on the back of healthier growth in both private consumption (Q4 2011: -0.1% quarter-on-quarter; Q1 2012: +0.2% qoq) and government spending (Q4: +0.2% qoq; Q1: +0.5% qoq). On the downside, gross fixed investment contracted 0.7% over the previous quarter, contrasting the 1.3% expansion observed in the final three-month period of 2011.

In contrast, the net contribution from the external sector to overall growth swung from a 0.8 percentage-point contribution in the fourth quarter to a 0.2 percentage-point detraction in the first, as imports outpaced exports. Exports of goods and services rose 0.2%, well below the 1.3% increase recorded in Q4, while imports rebounded to a 0.8% expansion (Q4: -1.5% qoq).

The government expects the economy to expand 0.4% this year and 1.7% in 2013.


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