French economy grows 1.0% in Q1: finance minister

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The economy of France grew by 1.0 percent in the first quarter, Economy Minister Christine Lagarde told AFP Thursday, hailing the figure as "the strongest since the second quarter of 2006".

"All lights are green," Lagarde said contacted by telephone in London where she met with her British counterpart George Osborne. The figure was "very good news for the French economy".

"Growth in the first quarter of 2011 came in at 1.0 percent, the strongest since the second quarter of 2006," she said adding she was "very confident that the (government) forecast of 2.0 percent growth for 2011 can be met".

Lagarde said the forces driving the growth rate were "at their highest level in 30 years", especially for the manufacturing industry.

"Private investment is up, at 0.7 percent, consumption is durable and we expect a job creation of more than 50,000 in the first quarter alone," she added.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said earlier in the day he expected growth for the first quarter of more than 0.8 percent.

He said gross domestic product "will be above 0.8 percent" over the three-month period, "double that in Britain and more than double the growth over the same period in the United States".

The 2010 fourth quarter output hike was 0.4 percent.

In its last estimate, early last month, the official Insee statistics body spoke of growth of 0.6 percent in the first quarter, followed by a 0.4 percent drop in the second.

"What is important for the year to come is that the government remains focused on growth and employment," said Fillon.

© 2011 AFP

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