French monthly trade gap jumps to $6.4 bln

French monthly trade gap jumps to $6.4 bln

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
French monthly trade gap jumps to $6.4 bln

Tens of thousands attend leftist presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon campaign meeting, two weeks before the first round of the election, at the Place du Capitole in Toulouse, France, on April 5. Plans to pull France out of the lingering eurozone crisis and put and end to economic slowdown sits on the heart of the electoral campaigns. ABACA PRESS photo

In increase in energy imports due to a cold snap in February sent France’s trade deficit jumping by nearly 15 percent in February to hit 6.4 billion euros ($8.4 billion), customs data showed on April 6.

“In February, the increase in imports is in part due to energy purchases connected to the cold snap, which caused the deficit to widen to 6.398 billion euros from 5.593 billion euros in January,” said the French customs service in a statement.

In addition to the cold weather, three oil refineries were shut for maintenance, also causing a spurt in imports, the customs service noted.

Imports rose to 43.6 billion euros in February and exports to 37.2 billion euros.

Exports were helped by good sales of manufactured items, as well as agricultural commodities and military equipment, noted the customs service.

Major deliveries of satellites and a rebound in vehicle exports also helped the monthly figures.
The 12-month trade deficit came in at 70.051 billion euros.

France posted a record trade deficit in 2011 of 70.104 billion euros.

France has a big structural trade deficit which is a central concern to policymakers, and contrasts with a big surplus by the leading eurozone economy, Germany.

A trade surplus is important because it contributes to growth of gross domestic product, while a trade deficit tends to be a drag on the economy.

Spain signals rate hike

MADRID - The Associated Press

Spain’s economy minister says the jump in interest rates demanded for Spanish and other eurozone bonds is due largely to market nervousness over economic growth in Europe.

Luis de Guindos told Spanish National Radio the release of poor growth figures in Europe showed the recession could be deeper than previously thought and “makes markets think it will be much more difficult to fulfill budget-deficit targets.”

De Guindos insisted on April 5, however, that a bailout for Spain “was not on the table.”

Interest rates for Spanish bonds have shot up recently on concerns about the government’s ability to push through a big austerity program and reduce its deficit.

Markets were closed for the Good Friday holiday on April 6 and those in Spain will remain closed on April 9.