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French economy sees fourth successive quarter of growth

media A French employment agency - will the growth translate into jobs Reuters/Charles Platiau

The French economy esaw a fourth consecutive quarter of growth between July and September, boosting the government's hopes of reducing the deficit to the European Union's target of three percent of GDP.

The eurozone's second-biggest economy experienced 0.5 percent growth in the third quarter of this year, according to the official statistics institute, Insee.

The result, which is just below the EU average of 0.6 percent, has been led by a rise in consumer spending and investment.

Growth was 0.6 percent in the previous quarter, 0.5 percent in the first quarter and 0.6 percent in the last quarter of 2016, making this the longest period of continuous growth in France since 2011.

The 0.6 percent figures are higher than previous estimates, vindicating the previous Socialist government's forecast of 1.5 percent growth in 2017, a figure that was challenged by official bodies at the time.

Boost to Macron

With 1.7 percent growth already achieved, President Emmanuel Macron's government looks set to achieve its target of 1.8 percent for the whole year, outstripping the International Monetary Fund's forecast, made in October, of 1.6 percent.

That will make it easier to reduce the deficit to three percent of GDP, a key point for Macron's credibility in Europe, despite the blow dealt to that ambition by an order to refund 10 billion euros to companies after the Constitutional Council ruled against the previous government's dividends tax.

In France itself the government's biggest challenge is  to turn the growth into jobs and reduce the 10 percent unemployment rate.

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