French industrial production down in March

11th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 11 (AFP) - French industrial production fell in March for a second consecutive month, threatening the government's forecast of economic growth this year, economists said.

PARIS, May 11 (AFP) - French industrial production fell in March for a second consecutive month, threatening the government's forecast of economic growth this year, economists said.  

Industrial production dropped 0.5 percent in March compared with February, when it fell 0.6 percent from the month before, the French statistics office INSEE said Wednesday.   Manufacturing, excluding energy and agricultural products, declined 0.9 percent in the month, following a 1.2 percent monthly decline in February, Insee said.  

"The latest figures do not point to an improvement in the manufacturing sector in the short term," said Jean-Marc Lucas of BNP Paribas.  

Most economists blamed higher oil prices and the strong euro for the industrial slump.  

"But the main problem today is inventories, which are considered too large for the industrial sector, especially in automobiles," said Nicolas Bouzou of the economic research group Xerfi.  

On Monday, French Finance Minister Thierry Breton said that the price of oil definitely weighed on growth in the first quarter.  

Still, Breton did not change the range of the government's 2005 growth forecast of between two percent and 2.5 percent.  

In the first three months of the current year, industrial production was stable compared with the same period in 2004, while manufacturing alone was down 0.3 percent, according to INSEE. 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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