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Economy in Brief

French Orders in Holding Pattern With Strong Foreign Orders
by Robert Brusca March 21, 2008

French industrial orders are hanging tough in an environment where Euro Area growth is fading and the euro is getting stronger. Total new orders and foreign orders are however losing some momentum after spurting strongly in mid-2007 as the chart above shows. While off peak and while showing some so-far short-lived downtrend, French domestic and foreign orders are still at firm levels and slipping only very gradually.

Despite Euro Area weakening, France has one of the higher NTC MFG indices in the Zone, at 53.8 in February just short of Germany’s at 54.3. And, like Germany, France has seen its rate of unemployment over the past year drop by more than one percentage point, faster than for the Euro Area as a whole. On the face of it, France’s economy is still doing well but household confidence is off sharply, MFG surveys show weakening trends, business climate is off peak and has flattened out, and the services sector climate index has been sliding. With France we must be aware that some of the recent trends that can be viewed a still firm exist in an environment where other survey responses seem to show relatively more concern and more slippage.

French Orders
Saar exept m/m Jan-08 Dec-07 Nov-07 3-mo 6-mo 12-mo
Total 3.1% -2.1% -0.2% 3.0% -2.7% 5.9%
Foreign 3.3% -0.9% 1.8% 18.0% 5.1% 5.8%
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