Auto sector drives French industrial output upwards

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French industrial output beat forecasts and rose 0.9 percent in July from the level in June, powered by a sharp rebound in the auto sector, the national statistics institute INSEE reported on Friday.

The gain followed a 1.7 percent decline in June.

Manufactured production, which excludes the mining and construction sectors, registered a rise of 1.4 percent in July compared with a fall of 1.2 percent in June.

The July performance "is clearly much better than expected," said analyst Laurence Boone of Barclays Capital, noting that her bank had foreseen a gain of 0.2 percent.

The INSEE forecast was for a gain limited to 0.4 percent.

But at research group Xerfi, economist Alexander Law cautioned that "there is no clear trend that has emerged."

He said that given the weak state of industry order books, the end of the year could "rather complicated."

Although output surged in the auto sector surged 6.5 percent on July after a slide of 6.5 percent in June, "the volatility that has characterised this industry for several years is far from over," Law said.

© 2010 AFP

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