(Refiles to fix typo in first paragraph)
By Michel Rose
PARIS Jan 10 French industrial production
posted a surprisingly strong rebound in November, adding to a
brightening outlook among both consumers and companies to signal
a sharper-than-expected pick-up in activity in the euro zone's
The 2.2 percent rise in French industrial output, which beat
even the most optimistic forecast in a Reuters poll of
economists, comes after better-than-expected consumer spending
figures for the same month.
It suggested an acceleration in French economic activity at
the end of the year after two insipid quarters marred by
strikes, bad harvests and diminishing tourism.
"This strong reading comes as a positive surprise, although
manufacturing surveys had been pointing to a pick-up in sectoral
momentum at the end of 2016," Unicredit economist Tullia Bucco
said in a note.
Surveys from the official statistics office INSEE have
flagged a surge in morale to multi-year highs amongst both
companies and consumers at the end of the year. A low euro has
also boosted exports to an 18-month high, with private surveyer
IHS Markit flagging an acceleration in factory activity in
In November, a 3.4 percent rise in transport material
production, which includes cars and aircrafts, was particularly
noteworthy, INSEE data showed.
The boost comes as Germany, the euro zone's largest economy,
is also showing signs of unexpected strength.
Industry experts and records of aircraft movements show a
record burst of activity at Airbus plants in France and Germany
at the end of the year to whittle down record order backlogs,
with December deliveries on track to set a monthly record for
the Toulouse-based company.
French car sales have also ended the year on a strong note.
Economists took heart in the strong French data, with
Barclays' Francois Cabau raising his fourth-quarter gross
domestic product forecast to 0.5 percent from 0.4 percent, while
JPMorgan's Raphael Brun-Aguerre lifted his projection of
annualised GDP to 2 percent from 1.25 percent.
However, Natixis' Philippe Waechter said the significant
increase in GDP in the final quarter will not be enough to boost
full-year output well above 1.1 percent, below the government's
official forecast of 1.4 percent.
"But it puts French activity on the right track for 2017,"
(Additional reporting by Andrew Callus Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)