French growth revised down, public debt shrinks: data

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The French statistics agency on Tuesday issued a downward revision to its second and third quarter French growth estimates, threatening to complicate government plans to reach a pace of 1.6 percent this year.

The national statistics body INSEE said growth came to 0.6 percent in the second quarter, rather than the 0.7 percent it estimated in mid-November, and 0.3 percent in the third, down from 0.4 percent.

That meant the economy would have to grow by 0.7 percent in the final three months of the year if the government's 1.6 percent annual target is to be met.

INSEE has said growth should come to 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter.

The agency attributed its third quarter downward revision to corporate and public works investment along with consumer spending and to production of heavy-duty goods-transporting trucks in the second.

INSEE at the same time said France's public debt narrowed slightly at the end of the third quarter to about 81.5 percent of gross domestic product from 82.9 percent at end of the second.

The government foresees a record debt of 82.9 percent of GDP for the full year, well beyond the 60 percent limit prescribed by the eurozone.

Debt is expected to rise to 86.2 percent next year and 87.4 percent in 2012 before narrowing to 86.8 percent in 2013 and 85.3 percent in 2014.

© 2010 AFP

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