The prognostications of Wall Street’s doomsayers have yet to reach the ears of French consumers – or maybe they just don’t want to hear!

Whichever, French consumer spending in January soared 3.2% month-on-month, its fastest rate for a year and a half, according to INSEE, the national statistics institute. The increase – triple that forecast by economists – lifted the year-on-year figure to 5%.

Commented Steve Barrow, currency strategist at Bear Stearns: “This ... gives a lie to the view that euroland growth is going to go the same way as the US.” BNP Paribas analyst Dominique Barbet agreed: “The outlook for French growth is really looking pretty favourable.”

According to the French government, national growth in 2000 was slightly higher than 3%, a performance it expects to encore in 2001.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)