Mexico Industrial Activity Declines in March, France’s Economy to Expand 0.2 Percent

Mexico’s industrial activity plunged 0.13 percent in March from a month earlier, reported the national statistics agency today. This lagged economists’ prediction of an increase of 0.30 percent.

The economists have already revised downwards their economic growth forecasts for 2014 after a sluggish start, and forecast economy to expand by 3.01 percent. Last year, the economy grew by 1.1 percent, its lowest in four years.

Manufacturing output, a segment of industrial activity, plunged 0.34 percent in March from February. Mexico exports 80 percent of its mostly manufactured items to the United States. Manufacturing sector confidence edged up slightly in April, though it was still weak, an indication that the economy is expanding slowly.

Industrial production grew 3.4 percent in March from a year ago, against forecasts of a growth of 3.65 percent. A good spot in the otherwise dim report is construction sector, which expanded by 0.05 percent after shrinking sharply in 2013. However, mining activity fell 0.48 percent over the period, reported Reuters.

In a separate report, the French central bank forecasts the economy to expand 0.2 percent in the second quarter of this year. The estimates come at a time when the Socialist government led by President Francois Hollande is looking for ways to slash deficit and control spiralling unemployment.

France’s unemployment rate currently stands at 10.2 percent. Hollande plans to jolt the economy back to life by removing 30 billion euros ($41.3 billion) in payroll taxes to firms in the next one year.

The Bank of France’s April monthly business climate survey showed that confidence in the industrial sector fell to 98, down from 99 a month earlier, down from the long-term average of 100. Idle capacity at factories fell slightly in April to 76.4 percent.

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