French Q4 GDP Growth Beats Expectations

The French economy advanced 0.3 percent on quarter in the three months to December 2018, the same pace as in the previous period and above market expectations of a 0.1 percent expansion, a preliminary estimate showed. Exports and fixed investment were the main drivers of growth while household consumption stalled.

Net foreign trade contributed the most to the GDP growth (0.2 percentage points), followed by final domestic demand (0.1 percentage points), while inventory changes subtracted 0.1 percentage points. This negative contribution was mostly attributed to transport equipment.

Exports surged 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter (vs 0.2 percent in Q3) and imports increased at a softer 1.6 percent (vs -0.7 percent in Q3).

Within domestic demand, fixed investment rose 0.2 percent (vs 1 percent in Q3) as corporate investment growth slowed (0.3 percent vs 1.7 percent), notably because of the decline in businesses’ purchases of cars. In addition, household investment continued to fall (-0.4 percent after -0.1 percent), particularly in housing. Meanwhile, government expenditure went up 0.3 percent, after a 0.2 percent rise in the previous period.

Household consumption stalled in the fourth quarter, following a 0.4 percent advance in the previous three-month period as consumption of goods declined 0.7 percent (vs 0.3 percent in Q3), while consumption of services increased 0.5 percent (vs 0.4 percent). In particular, the strong downturn in engineered goods (-1.2 percent vs 0.6 percent) was linked to a decrease in automotive purchases following the surge in Q3. Expenditures on energy declined again (-0.4 percent vs -0.1 percent) due to low fuel consumption and temperatures higher than seasonal averages. In services, consumption accelerated very slightly (0.5 percent vs 0.4 percent).

Year-on-year, the economy advanced 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, the weakest pace of expansion since the third quarter of 2016 and following a 1.3 percent growth in the previous three-month period.

Considering 2018 full year, the economy grew 1.5 percent, easing from a 2.3 percent expansion in 2017. Growth slowed for household consumption (0.8 percent vs 1.1 percent in 2017), fixed investment (2.9 percent vs 4.7 percent), government spending (1 percent vs 1.4 percent), exports (3.1 percent vs 4.7 percent) and imports (1.1 percent vs 4.1 percent). On the other hand, inventory changes contributed negatively to the GDP growth.

French Q4 GDP Growth Beats Expectations

INSEE | Rida Husna |
1/30/2019 11:50:28 AM