March 16, 2020 / 3:02 PM / 25 days ago

French business decline in early March on par with 2008 slump: INSEE

PARIS (Reuters) - Business conditions in France were deteriorating at a rate at least on par with the downturn seen at the height of the 2008 global financial crisis even before health and safety measures were tightened due to the coronavirus outbreak, the INSEE official statistics agency said on Monday.

INSEE said that data on hand before the government stepped up precautionary measures last week had suggested the economy contracted slightly in the first quarter and was on course to decline more sharply in the second quarter. It added however those estimates were now out of date since the measures had been tightened.

“Despite the favorable economic indicators in January and February, the pre-collection of business survey responses in early March signaled a deterioration of the business climate at least of the same order as in late 2008,” INSEE said in statement.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Alex Richardson

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