Tuesday, 29 December 2009

UPDATE: French 3Q GDP Unrevised, Recovery Looks Fragile

UPDATE: French 3Q GDP Unrevised, Recovery Looks Fragile

(Adds background, economist comment.)


By Gabriele Parussini
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES


PARIS (Dow Jones)--French gross domestic product expanded 0.3% in the third quarter from the second, the national statistics service said Tuesday, confirming that the euro zone's second-largest economy has emerged from recession.

The quarterly growth was the second in a row, and came after a full year of contraction.

Still, compared with the July-to-September period of last year, the total value of goods and services produced in France shrank 2.3% in the third quarter.

France has weathered the crisis better than other European Union economies, but its recovery appears to be fragile.

The statistics agency Insee, in a forecast earlier this month, said industrial production will slow next year, leaving the burden for economic growth mainly on the service sector.

The main risk for the French economy, Insee said, may come from a weakening in private consumption. Households' purchasing power growth is projected to slow down next year.

Still, Tuesday's data confirmed that household consumption remains the main engine of the French economy. Throughout the year-long recession, consumption dipped only once into negative territory, shrinking 0.2% in the first quarter of 2008. It has been growing ever since.

In the third quarter of this year, household consumption posted a 0.1% increase, after a 0.4% rise in the three months to July.

Other components of GDP showed marked weakness.

Investment fell 1.4%, a faster pace of decline than the -1% posted in the previous quarter. And exports, while outpacing imports with growth of 1.7% on the quarter, were revised down from the first estimate of 2.3% growth.

"The investment outlook remains bleak and net exports are unlikely to continue to provide a positive contribution to GDP growth," said Dominique Barbet, an economist at BNP Paribas SA in Paris.

Barbet also noted that the household saving rate rose to its highest level since 1982, and that while corporate profitability recovered in the third quarter, it still remains way below the pre-crisis levels.

-By Gabriele Parussini, Dow Jones Newswires; +33 1 4017 1766; gabriele.parussini@dowjones.com

Click here to go to Dow Jones NewsPlus, a web front page of today's most important business and market news, analysis and commentary: http://www.djnewsplus.com/access/al?rnd=6U60xXwSNLFNLajFFImqkg%3D%3D. You can use this link on the day this article is published and the following day.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 29, 2009 05:08 ET (10:08 GMT)


Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

UK 3Q Housing Equity Withdrawal -GBP4.9B Vs -GBP6.9B 2Q


UK 3Q Housing Equity Withdrawal -GBP4.9B Vs -GBP6.9B 2Q

LONDON (Dow Jones)--U.K. households injected a net GBP4.9 billion in equity back into their homes in the third quarter of 2009, the sixth quarter that there has been a net injection, the Bank of England said Tuesday.

That was a smaller repayment than the GBP6.9 billion repayment in the second quarter of this year, a figure that was revised lower from an originally reported GBP7.0 billion. Between July and September last year, homeowners repaid a total of GBP5.8 billion of equity into from their homes.

The level of repayment was less than expected. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires last week had forecast home-owners repaid GBP5.8 billion in the third quarter.

The data measure the portion of borrowing secured on residential property that isn't invested in the U.K. housing market, but used to finance consumption or invest in financial assets.

Although the outlook for the U.K. economy is improving, consumer confidence remains below average, suggesting the trend of putting money back into your house rather than taking it out, is likely to continue for some time.

Housing equity withdrawal now represents -2.0% of take-home pay, indicating a net repayment rather than a positive contribution to consumer spending as seen during the housing market boom in previous years.

In the second quarter of 2009, housing equity withdrawal represented -2.8% of take-home pay while in the third quarter of 2008 it accounted for -2.5%, the BOE data show.

Web site: www.bankofengland.co.uk

-By Ilona Billington; Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0) 207 842 9452; ilona.billington@dowjones.com

Click here to go to Dow Jones NewsPlus, a web front page of today's most important business and market news, analysis and commentary: http://www.djnewsplus.com/access/al?rnd=6U60xXwSNLFNLajFFImqkg%3D%3D. You can use this link on the day this article is published and the following day.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 29, 2009 04:57 ET (09:57 GMT)


Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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