PARIS – France’s economy probably eked out meagre growth in the first quarter, but more difficult days lie ahead as the war in Ukraine weighs on activity, the central bank said on Tuesday, cutting its outlook.
It estimated that the euro zone’s second-biggest economy grew by 0.25% in the first three months from the previous quarter, trimming its forecast from 0.5% previously.
The INSEE national statistics agency will release its first GDP reading for the quarter on April 29.
Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said the more than 8,000 businesses the central bank surveys each month were reporting a more uncertain outlook as the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine begins to be felt.
“French growth seems to be holding up better than our neighbours but without a doubt we are heading for more difficult economic times,” Villeroy said in an interview with the EBRA French regional newspapers group.
“France is driving on a slippery road. Let’s be careful to avoid economic lurches,” he added.
French voters go to the polls on April 24 for a runoff vote for the presidency between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and far right leader Marine Le Pen who promises a hard break with his centrist policies.
Villeroy declined to comment on the election, but said that if the country ended up spending and borrowing more, it could lose investors’ confidence and have to pay more to service its debt.