France: Business confidence improves in March
March 23, 2012
In March, the business sentiment index published by the National Statistical Institute (INSEE) rose to 96 points from a revised 93 points in February (previously reported: 92 points). The increase marked the second consecutive improvement in the index in nine months and exceeded market expectations, which had business confidence climbing to 93 points. However, business sentiment remains below its long-term average of 100 points, where it has now languished for seven consecutive months. The March result reflected substantial improvements in both general and personal production expectations. In addition demand and total order levels as well as demand and export order levels also improved over the previous month. According to the Central Bank's monthly index of business activity (MIBA), GDP growth was flat in the first quarter, which matched INSEE's forecast in its March quarterly economic outlook.