French Trade Gap Rises in March
The trade gap in France widened to EUR 6.1 billion in March of 2021 from a downwardly revised EUR 5.1 billion in February, the highest shortfall in 7 months. Exports were up 2.6 percent to EUR 39.9 billion and imports soared 5.4 percent to EUR 46.1 billion, the highest since February of 2020. Considering January to March 2021, the trade gap increased to EUR 15.4 billion as exports rose 1.8 percent and imports increased at a faster 3.7 percent, due to higher oil prices and lower sales of aeronautical and automotive products. Exports and imports were still at 93% and 94% respectively of their average quarterly value for 2019.
European Stocks Gain on Upbeat Data, Earnings
European equity markets traded mostly higher on Friday, on the back of upbeat economic data and a strong earnings season. Germany’s industrial production rose in March by the most in five months, while better-than-expected exports and imports figures from Europe’s largest economy and China signaled a solid rebound in global demand, adding to signs of a strong economic recovery in 2021. On the corporate front, BMW confirmed its full-year profit margin outlook although rising raw material prices could hurt earnings going forward. Siemens raised its full-year profit and sales guidance and Credit Agricole’s profits jumped in the first quarter. Adidas is also due to report today.
French March Industrial Output Growth Disappoints
France’s industrial production rose by 0.8 percent from a month earlier in March 2021, rebounding from a revised 4.8 percent slump in February but missing market expectations of a 2.0 percent growth. Manufacturing output advanced 0.4 percent (vs -4.8 percent in February), boosted by increases in the production of coke and refined petroleum, food products and beverages, machinery and equipment goods and transport equipment. In addition, mining and quarrying, energy, water supply grew by 2.9 percent, recovering from a 5.0 percent slump in the previous month.
French Private Payroll Employment Rebounds in Q1
Payroll employment in the French private sector increased by 57.3 thousand or 0.3 percent to 19.49 million in the first quarter of 2021, following a 0.1 percent decline in the previous three-month period due to the health crisis and national lockdown. Payrolls in construction posted the largest increase in January-March (1.2 percent vs 0.7 percent in Q4), followed by non-market services (0.3 percent vs 0.7 percent), market services (0.2 percent vs -0.4 percent), industry (0.2 percent vs -0.4 percent) and agriculture (0.2 percent vs 2.7 percent). Still, private payroll employment remained below its pre-crisis level.