Friday, French statistical office INSEE said gross domestic product or GDP contracted less than previously estimated in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Final data showed that GDP fell 1.1% quarter-on-quarter in the last three months of the previous year, compared with a 1.2% decline estimated previously. In the third quarter, the economy expanded only 0.1%.

In the fourth quarter, households' consumption expenditures accelerated 0.3% after increasing 0.1% in the third quarter. Total Gross Fixed Capital Formation or GFCF fell 1.4% driven by the sharp drop of non-financial corporations' GFCF and a softer decline of households' GFCF.

Exports collapsed 3.5% after rising 0.9% in the third quarter, whereas imports markedly weakened 2.3%. All in all, foreign trade balance contributed minus 0.3 points to GDP growth this quarter after a null contribution in the previous quarter.

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