French economic growth held steady in first quarter at 0.3 percent

April 30, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – French growth held steady in the first three months of the year as household spending recovered after anti-government protests at the end of 2018, official data showed on Tuesday.

The euro zone’s second-biggest economy grew 0.3 percent in the January-March period, the third quarter in a row at that rate, showed preliminary data from the INSEE statistics agency.

A Reuters poll of 27 economists had an average estimate of 0.3 percent.

Household spending, the traditional motor of French growth, grew 0.5 percent after stalling in the final three months of 2018, when spending was hit by some of the most violent street protests seen in decades.

Business investment picked up only marginally, growing 0.5 percent after 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter when the unrest weighed heavily on business confidence.

Exports grew only 0.1 percent in the first quarter while imports were up 0.9 percent. As a result, foreign trade subtracted 0.3 percentage points from growth, while business inventory building boosted output by 0.3 percent.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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