Official data compiled by the French national statistics institute Insee shows that unemployment in the Eurozone’s second largest economy hit 10.6% in the fourth quarter of 2012 hitting its highest level in 14 years.
The jobs data adds to the bad news afflicting France. The nation’s Gross Domestic Product has shrunk for three out of the last four quarters and economists have lowered the odds that the struggling nation will slide into another recession.
A recession is technically defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, but economists say that France’s high unemployment rate is already recessionary. Unemployment rates also tend to lag behind economic growth, so the rate will likely continue to rise. The country’s unemployment rate has increased since President Francois Hollande took office in May 2012, despite his promises to create 100,000 new jobs per year.
Elsewhere the Euro strengthened away from a three-month low against the US Dollar after Standard & Poor’s has upgraded Portugal’s credit rating from negative to stable, citing fresh evidence that European institutions will continue to support the country’s efforts to get its fiscal house in order.
The Euro is also expected to strengthen further over the course of the morning ahead of today’s European Central Bank policy meeting. Economists are expecting the ECB to maintain the current interest rate at the record low level of 0.75%.
Current Euro exchange rates
As of 11:15 am
The Euro to Pound Sterling exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 0.8678
The Euro to US Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.3009
The Euro to Australian Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.2675
The Euro to New Zealand Dollar exchange rate is currently trading in the region of 1.5698