France posted a surprise 0.2-percent growth in the third quarter, easing fears of a possible recession of Europe's second largest economy, government data showed here on Thursday.
According to preliminary data from national statistics bureau Insee, the July-September period growth was mainly driven by better-than-expected household consumption which increased by 0.3 percent after falling by 1.2 percent in the previous three months, as households spent more to buy clothes, and on health care and services.
After five quarters of near stagnation, a rebound in transport equipment output and an upturn of coke and refined petroleum production also drove up the total manufacturing business up by 1 percent, while services showed a slight improvement with 0.4 percent rise over the period, up by 0.2 point percentage from the second quarter.
French exports inched up by 0.5 percent from 0.3 percent in the April-June period on "exceptional sales in aeronautics and aerospace" sectors, whereas imports slowed, contributing to a positive trade balance.
"The slight increase in the third quarter proves that the French economy is strong and has a potential rebound that reinforces the government's forecast of 0.3 percent for 2012 and 0.8 percent in 2013," Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici was quoted by Europe 1 as saying.
"(Insee figures) must comfort but should not cause an euphoria," he added.