The first-quarter growth figure is eagerly awaited by the government, which hopes for a rebound in activity.

Le Monde with More Bank Published today at 09:23, updated at 09:23

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In the industrial sector, production declined, particularly in aeronautics, chemistry and metallurgy. But activity should resume in February. In the industrial sector, production declined, particularly in aeronautics, chemistry and metallurgy. But activity should resume in February. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / More BankAfter four quarters of weak growth, French growth should increase by 0.4% in France in the first quarter, thanks in particular to an improvement in the building sector, according to a first estimate unveiled Monday, February 11 by the Bank of France , eagerly awaited by the government. This assumption, in line with the forecast of the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), is up compared to the figure of the fourth quarter of 2018 (+ 0.3%), penalized in part by the movement of " yellow vests ".

The French central bank, which bases itself on this estimate on its monthly business survey, explains this slight rebound by the rise in demand in the building sector and the improvement of the outlook in industry and services. In the building, the growth of the activity was confirmed in January, especially in the second work, thanks to order books "Very well stocked", according to the monetary institution. In the industrial sector, on the other hand, production declined, particularly in aeronautics, chemistry and metallurgy. But according to the business leaders interviewed by the Banque de France, activity should resume in February.

Services activity, meanwhile, slowed last month, with a notable drop in the interim and accommodation-catering, against a background of continued movement of "yellow vests". But "Business leaders predict an acceleration of activity in February"after a steady decline in the past three months, says the Bank of France.

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Increase in savings

The government hopes for a rebound in activity, thanks in particular to measures announced against the movement of "yellow vests". These measures, totaling eleven billion euros, should, in fact, restore purchasing power to French households and allow a rebound in consumption, the main driver of economic activity in the Hexagon.

But some economists fear that these gains in purchasing power, which should in 2019 reach 440 euros per household according to the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE), result in an increase in savings, with a limited effect on the activity. We have "A level of growth that remains strong despite European and global uncertainties", wanted to reassure Sunday the Minister of Economy, Bruno Mayor, on the sidelines of an international forum in Dubai.

In its finance bill, the government has forecast growth of 1.7%. But the Mayor recently suggested that this goal could be planed because of the global economic slowdown. In its latest forecast released on Thursday, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said it is betting on gross domestic product (GDP) growth of only 1.3 percent in 2019. The Bank of France, for its part, anticipates growth of 1.5%.

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