PARIS, May 12 (Reuters) - France’s economic downturn eased up last month, although activity remained mired at levels far below normal following a coronavirus lockdown imposed in mid-March, the central bank said on Tuesday.
The euro zone’s second-biggest economy was operating 27% below normal levels in April after 32% in the second half of March, the Bank of France said.
France began unwinding its strict lockdown on Monday, allowing non-essential shops, factories and other businesses to reopen for the first time in eight weeks.
The central bank said manufacturing activity remained down 37% last month, but was nonetheless better than the 48% seen in March, while private sector service firms’ activity was reduced by 27% in April after 37% in March.
The Bank of France based its estimate on its monthly business climate survey of 8,500 firms, but did not venture to make a quarterly GDP forecast as usual given the unprecedented nature of the current downturn. (Reporting by Leigh Thomas Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)