France economy

Will opponents of Europa City stop the project in Paris?

Critics of the $3bn retail park are unhappy because it will be built on farmland
The $3bn business and retail park will be built in a suburb near Charles de Gaulle Airport, with its backer the retail group Auchan claiming it will create jobs and boost the local economy.

However the project is opposed by people who wonder if the area, which is close to Disneyland Paris and Parc Astérix, needs another leisure venture. Critics are also unhappy because it will be built on farmland.

Romaine Eskenazi, from the local authority of Gonesse, tells the BBC's Russell Padmore, opponents of Europa City should realise it's more than just a shopping mall.

(Picture: Protestors against the construction of Europa City near Paris. Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images.)

No greater threat to world growth

four men in red jackets and a ship
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The US is the biggest export market for Chinese goods

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has been speaking about the imposition of tariffs on China by the US.

“There is no greater threat to world growth,” Mr Le Maire told French TV channel CNews. “It would mean that trade tariffs go up, fewer goods would circulate around the world ... and jobs in France and in Europe would be destroyed.”

French growth holds steady

French shop
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France's economy grew by 0.3% in the first quarter of the year, official figures show, helped by a pick-up in consumer spending.

It means the eurozone's second largest economy has now grown at the same pace for three quarters in a row.

Consumer spending rose by 0.4% in the quarter, marking a recovery from the previous quarter when spending was hit by anti-government protests.

The French government responded by offering a €10bn package which was aimed at boosting the incomes of poorer workers and pensioners.

French, Germany and Italian economy

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Howard Archer is chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club of economic forecasters.

French PMI data is also out saying that the services measure fell in March to 49.1 from 50.2 in February - this is better than a preliminary reading of 48.7. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

Mr Archer also tweeted about Germany.

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French economy picks up

Cars have been set on fire close to the yellow vests' protest in Bordeaux
AFP

The yellow-vest protests in France were thought to have hit the French economy but new data shows consumer confidence in March touched a seven-month high.

Data from France's INSEE official statistics agency showed that the March reading of its consumer confidence gauge was the highest since last August.

'Alarm bell' for global economy

dax chart
BBC

Back the PMI data from earlier, which since its release has knocked stock markets across Europe, including Germany's Dax index illustrated above.

David Cheetham, analyst at Xtb, says the economic releases are "worse than expected" and "have sounded the alarm bell not just for the bloc, but also the global economy, by providing further evidence of a worldwide slowdown in economic activity".

"These industry surveys are keenly followed, and unlike employment or GDP figures they are commonly seen as leading indicators due to the nature of their composition which is heavily weighted to future expectations"

Report indicates French slowdown

Howard Archer is the chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club and his tweet follows data from the purchasing mangers index (PMI) from IHS Markit.

The PMI index in March fell to 48.7 from 50.4 in February. That dip below 50 indicates a contraction and economists had been expecting it continue to show an expansion in services and manufacturing.

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Germany hit by exports slowdown

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

VW production in Germany
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The economies of Germany and France are in slowdown mode. Germany has just had GDP growth numbers out: in 2018, it grew at 1.5% - its slowest rate in about six years, In France, the government hoped for 2.3% growth this year, but most economists think it will struggle to get much over 1.5%.

Janet Henry, global chief economist at HSBC, told the Today programme that Germany's exports had slowed "quite markedly" last year, because of global trade woes - not good news, given that exports account for half the economy, as opposed to 30% in the UK.

Germany "only performs well when the global economy does", she said. "Consumer spending will not provide a lift until its major trading partners show meaningful improvement."

Protests hit French economy

protesters
Reuters

Anti-government protests in France last month appear to have knocked activity in the services sector.

Data suggests service sector activity fell at its fastest pace in more than four years in December. The IHS Markit purchasing managers index showed a reading of 49.0 in December from 55.1 in November. Any move below 50 indicates contraction.

In contrast, Italy's services sector expanded at its fastest pace in three months in December.

Overall, final eurozone services came in at 51.2, slightly below an initial reading of 51.4 - it was 53.4 in November. This points to slowest growth in over four years, IHS Markit said.