Activity improved very slightly in December in France, with a gap reduced to -7% compared to the pre-crisis situation, after -11% in November, but this catching-up will experience a pause in January, according to data released Wednesday by the Banque de France.
Despite this slight improvement in December compared to its previous estimate of -8%, the French central bank confirmed its forecast of a GDP decline of 4% in the last quarter of 2020 and 9% for the whole year. 2020, according to its monthly economic survey.
In the context of the end of confinement in mid-December, with in particular a reopening of shops, “activity has partially recovered” in December, details the Banque de France which relies on feedback from 8,500 companies.
The improvement mainly concerned services, then to a lesser extent industry, while activity remained stable in construction, details the Banque de France.
“Lack of visibility”
But disparities persist within each segment, since while the situation is better in the chemical or food industry, it remains “degraded” in the automobile, aeronautics and other transport sectors.
Unsurprisingly, in services, accommodation and catering continue to suffer, when most other activities are progressing again with the lifting of containment and the end of year holiday period conducive to trade or transport services.
But this improvement should mark a halt in January, warns the central bank, with activity “almost stable” in industry, construction and services, according to business leaders interviewed between December 21 and 7 last january.
The Banque de France is thus counting for January on activity still below 7% of its pre-crisis level, as in December, due to the maintenance and even the strengthening of measures to fight the Covid-19 epidemic. .
But this anticipation “must be interpreted with caution because it can mask a lack of visibility, given the great uncertainty about the evolution of the epidemic”, warns the Banque de France.
The development of the activity will ultimately depend on the adaptation of the measures taken by the government, while the defense council which is being held on Wednesday could approve new restrictions, including an extension of the curfew.
Activity should therefore remain 6% below its pre-crisis level during the first quarter, according to the latest forecasts from the Banque de France published in mid-December.
It was then counting on a rebound in GDP of 5% this year, a little less than the forecast of 6% established by the government.