Lagarde welcomes pickup in French business confidence
French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde welcomed strong industrial sector confidence figures Friday which should underpin the government's 2011 growth forecast of 2.0 percent.
An official INSEE industrial sector confidence index rose to 108 points in January from 102 in December, suggesting the French economy picked up faster than expected at the end of last year.
"According to company heads surveyed in January ... the business environment has clearly improved," the INSEE statistics institute said in a statement.
Lagarde told AFP that the figures were "very significant" and supported the government's forecast of 2.0 percent growth this year.
"The French economy is starting off 2011 in good form," she said.
Analysts welcomed the data as promising.
"This is the best reading since the first quarter of 2008, that is before the onset of the 'Great Recession,'" noted Alexander Law of research house Xerfi.
© 2011 AFP