Industrial production in France unexpectedly climbed for a third month in February on higher consumer spending and record exports. Production at factories and utilities, which accounts for 15 percent of the economy, rose 0.3 percent from January, when it gained a revised 0.6 percent, the national statistics bureau, Insee, said today in Paris. French manufacturing, which excludes energy and food output, rose 0.3 percent on the month, led by a 1.3 percent gain in equipment manufacturing, Insee said. From a year earlier, industrial output rose 2 percent and manufacturing increased 1.9 percent. January's industrial production was initially reported to have risen 0.5 percent.
Economic growth in France has weathered a U.S. slowdown, record oil costs and euro appreciation, sustained by 9 billion euros ($14.2 billion) in tax cuts introduced by President Nicolas Sarkozy and declining unemployment. Joblessness in France fell to a 24-year low in the fourth quarter.
The International Monetary Fund and French government have cut their 2008 growth forecast in the past two weeks, with the IMF seeing a slowdown to 1.4 percent and French officials forecasting as low as 1.7 percent.