French forecast more optimistic on growth, not jobs
France's national statistics agency on Thursday forecast a slight lift in economic growth thanks to falling oil prices and a weaker euro, but warned it would not be enough to lower the nation's stubbornly high unemployment.
The INSEE agency said it expected growth of just 0.1 percent in the final quarter of 2014, but 0.3 percent expansion in the first two quarters of 2015.
While the agency declined to stipulate estimates for full-year 2015 growth, its study included first semester figures indicating the French economy should expand by a minimum of 0.7 percent next year.
Hope for an even stronger recovery was offered in INSEE's forecast for economic activity to increase by 1.0 percent between the summers of 2014 and 2015. Growth was flat between the same period in 2013–2014.
The projections are in line with government estimates of 1.0 percent growth next year.
Despite the improved prospects for growth in the eurozone's second-largest economy, INSEE said the good news would not extend to the country's persistently high jobless rate.
In fact, INSEE sees French unemployment rising to 10.6 percent by mid-2015, up from 10.4 percent in the third quarter of 2014.
The agency said French companies were expected to continue sitting on investment plans -- which fuel job creation – well into 2015.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin described the agency's forecast as "confirming the government's growth scenario" but still not "strong enough" to ease the country's employment or public finance ills.
While warning its growth estimates would depend on oil prices and the euro's exchange rate, INSEE said it expected the price of oil to continue falling to levels below those used in its forecast.
Lower oil prices help boost consumer spending while a weaker euro makes French exports cheaper.
© 2014 AFP