--France's third-quarter GDP grew 18.2% on the quarter and fell 4.3% on the year

--GDP data for the second quarter was revised up slightly to a 13.7% quarter-on-quarter drop

--The rebound in 3Q was broad-based across sectors


By Maria Martinez


France's economy rebounded in the third quarter, recovering from its biggest contraction on record in the second quarter after a nationwide lockdown enforced to limit the spread of the coronavirus brought economic activity to a halt.

The eurozone's second-biggest economy grew 18.2% in the third quarter as restrictions were lifted, French statistics agency Insee said in a first estimate. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 15.0% expansion.

This follows a revised 13.7% decline in the second quarter, up slightly from the previous estimate of a 13.8% drop.

On a year-on-year basis, the economy contracted 4.3% in the third quarter, Insee said.

The breakdown showed the rebound was broad-based, with increases in household spending, investment, net trade and government spending.

"The massive increase in French gross domestic product in the third quarter is of no comfort to French policymakers or households, who are now contending with a second national lockdown," says Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced tough restrictions once again. A national lockdown, which will begin Friday and last at least one month, will require people to remain inside their homes while restaurants, bars and shops deemed nonessential will close.

Berenberg estimates the one-month lockdown in France could cause a significant contraction in GDP of 3% to 4% in the fourth quarter, while Capital Economics projects it could cause GDP to drop 2.5% in the quarter.

Spain, Germany and Italy will also publish GDP figures on Friday, and they are also forecast to show strong rebounds in the third quarter following historic contractions in the second quarter. The eurozone as a whole will also release the first estimate of its GDP for the third quarter and a sharp expansion is expected.


Write to Maria Martinez at maria.martinez@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 30, 2020 04:04 ET (08:04 GMT)

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