France On Course For Steady 0.3% Quarterly Growth Through 2019: INSEE
The French economy will maintain a steady cruising speed throughout the year despite slower global growth as household income gains boost consumer spending, the INSEE official statistics agency said on Thursday.
The euro zone's second-biggest economy is on course to post quarterly growth of 0.3% through each quarter this year, INSEE forecast.
Updating its forecasts in its quarterly economic outlook, INSEE trimmed its second-quarter estimate from 0.4% previously.
At the pace now seen, the economy would grow 1.3% over the course of the full year, putting France firmly ahead of the 0.6% forecast for the German economy by its central bank.
Nonetheless, that would be down from the 1.7% France recorded last year and slightly less than the government's current 1.4% forecast for this year.
INSEE estimated that consumer spending would grow 0.3-0.5% per quarter this year as households saw disposable income increases, mainly concentrated in the first and last quarters.
After facing weeks of protests over fuel tax hikes, squeezed purchasing power and perceived elitism, President Emmanuel Macron's government came out with a package of concessions worth more than €10 billion aimed at boosting the income of the poor.
While the extra income is helping underpin firm consumer spending, some of it has so far gone into the bank as the household savings rate rose in the first quarter to 15.3%, the highest level since 2012.
With growth holding steady over the course of the year, the economy was expected to add close to 50,000 new jobs in the coming quarters after creating nearly 100,000 in the first three months of the year, INSEE said.
At that pace, the unemployment rate was expected to decline from 8.8% at the end of last year to 8.3% by the end of this year.