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French industrial output blasts by expectations in January

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: National lockdown as part of the new COVID-19 measures to fight second wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France

PARIS (Reuters) - French industrial production surged more than expected in January from the previous month, more than offsetting a slump the previous month, official data showed on Wednesday.

The INSEE statistics agency said industrial production rose 3.3% in January from December, when it fell 1.4%. That surpassed not only the average forecast for 0.5% in a Reuters poll of economists' expectations but also the highest estimate, which was for 2.5%.

INSEE said the increase was broad-based, with all industrial sectors seeing an increase except transport equipment. That includes carmaking and aeronautics, which has been hit hard by the global aviation downturn.

France's industrial sector has managed to perform in recent months better than the larger service sector, which is subject to more coronavirus restrictions.

However, its recovery has lagged that in Germany and Italy, which benefit from more exposure to the Chinese market and which rely less on a handful of industries like aeronautics and food-processing in France.

The government aims to speed up the recovery with a focus on industry in its 100 billion-euro economic stimulus plan and said earlier this month it would plough an extra billion euros into support for the sector.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas, editing by Larry King)