France’s industrial sector performed worse than expected in December, reversing course in the eurozone’s second largest economy after a bumper month in November.

Industrial production fell 0.9 per cent in the final month of the year, compared with a 2.2 per cent rise the previous month. Analysts had expected a fall of just 0.7 per cent. On an annual basis output rose 1.3 per cent against predictions of a 1.4 per cent rise.

France’s industrial sector, accounting for just under a quarter of the country’s economy, had returned to growth in November, with output rising 1.8 per cent on an annual basis compared to a 1.8 per cent decline in October.

A separate gauge of manufacturing production found that the sector also performed slightly worse than expected, with output falling 0.8 per cent in December against expectations of a 0.7 per cent drop. That compared with a jump of 2.3 per cent in November.

The figures come amid a tense time for French politics amid fears that far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has vowed to take France out of the eurozone, could succeed in the country’s presidential elections in May following the fall from grace of conservative contender François Fillon.

The political uncertainty has been having an impact on the country’s borrowing costs, with the premium investors demanded to hold France’s 10-year bonds over Germany’s swelling to a fresh post-eurozone crisis high earlier this week.

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