France fell into recession in Q1, revised GDP data shows

Reuters

Posted at May 28 2021 03:26 PM

France fell into recession in Q1, revised GDP data shows 1
People wearing protective face masks walk in a street in Paris, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in France, May 27, 2021. Sarah Meyssonnier, Reuters/File

PARIS - France, the euro zone's second biggest economy, fell into recession in the first quarter of 2021 with a 0.1 percent contraction, revised official data showed on Friday.

The INSEE statistics office revised its GDP reading sharply down from +0.4 percent, saying data from the construction sector had been much weaker than its extrapolation had suggested.

It followed 1.5 percent contraction in the final three months of 2020.

A revision of half a percentage point is highly unusual in France and underscores the challenges governments have faced in responding to the coronavirus pandemic as it roils economies around the globe.

In a further sign of difficulties, household spending, the driving force of France's economic activity, fell 8.3 percent in the first month of the second quarter after President Emmanuel Macron ordered a third national COVID-19 lockdown.

That stay-at-home order is now being slowly unwound. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday stuck to his growth forecast of 5 percent for 2021 and said the crisis was "moving behind us, though we must remain cautious."

Full year 2020 GDP was slightly better than expected at -8.0 percent versus a previous estimate of -8.2 percent, INSEE said.

The statistics agency also confirmed the public deficit stood at 9.2 percent of GDP last year. 

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