May 4, 2018 / 7:09 AM / 7 months ago

French trade deficit widens in March as aircraft sales slump

An employee walks in front of an Airbus A380 at the final assembly line at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s trade deficit widened unexpectedly in March as import growth outpaced that of exports amid a dearth of aircraft sales, seasonally-adjusted data published on Friday by the customs office showed.

The trade balance showed a deficit of 5.3 billion euros ($6.34 billion) in March after a gap of 5.0 billion euros in February, the customs office said. Economists had forecast on average a deficit of 4.9 billion euros.

Imports bounced back 0.8 percent in March after slumping in February while exports grew only 0.4 percent despite the sale of a cruise ship and a spike in pharmaceuticals sales to the United States and Switzerland.

The customs office said that aircraft and satellite sales had fallen to the lowest level since August 2014 as Airbus deliveries fell due to temporary production difficulties.

Separately, the central bank said that current account deficit widened in March to 1.3 billion euros from a revised shortfall of 900 million in February, citing in particular a drop in the surplus for services.

(Graphic: Monthly balance, imports and exports - reut.rs/2nKc3RU)

($1 = 0.8356 euros)

Reporting by Leigh Thomas, Editing by Sarah White

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