PARIS (AFP) - French household consumption was stable in December on a monthly basis, but slipped slightly by 0.2 per cent for 2012 as a whole, data released on Thursday by the national statistics institute Insee showed.
An increase in automobile sales offset a decline in the energy sector, which was due to relatively mild weather, an Insee statement said.
Household purchases were just 0.1 per cent lower in the three months from October to the end of December on a quarterly basis, after having gained 0.2 per cent in the previous quarter.
A breakdown of the data showed that consumption of manufacturing goods was 0.8 per cent lower for the entire year, the steepest annual loss since 1993, following a gain of 0.9 per cent in 2011.
Purchases of durable goods picked up towards the end of last year however, gaining 2.2 per cent in December from November and 1.2 per cent in the fourth quarter from the third.
Sales of new cars jumped by 4.6 per cent in December on a monthly basis, but by a much more modest 0.9 per cent in the fourth quarter, in anticipation of a penalty on heavily polluting cars that took effect on Jan 1.