French recession seen less dire than expected at -8.7% in 2020 – central bank

PARIS, Sept 14 (Reuters) – France’s economy will contract in 2020 by less than expected only a few months ago as business activity and consumer spending bounced back after the country emerged from one of Europe’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns, the central bank said on Monday.

The forced closure of most shops, offices and cafes for nearly two months until May 11 plunged the economy into one the deepest recessions in Europe with an unprecedented 13.8% slump in the second quarter from the previous three months.

The central bank estimated in its quarterly outlook that activity was now back to running 5% below normal levels, which translated into a 16% surge in third quarter gross domestic product from the previous quarter.

That left euro zone’s second-biggest economy on course to shrink 8.7% for this year as a whole, by far France’s worst post-war recession but less than the 10.3% slump that

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