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French economic growth accelerates, consumer spending down

Staff Writer |
sFrench economic growth accelerated at the end of 2016, putting the country and the wider eurozone on a steadier footing at the start of a year over which political uncertainty looms.

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Stronger consumer spending growth and a sharp rebound in business investment helped push French gross domestic product 0.4% higher quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter, national statistics agency Insee said. The figures were in line with economist forecasts.

Weak agricultural production and sharp declines in tourism after terror attacks had dragged on the economy over the summer. In the third quarter, the economy expanded only 0.2% after a slight contraction in the second.

French finance minister Michel Sapin said 2016 ended on a positive note. "It is the sign of a recovery that is becoming sustainable."

French consumer spending unexpectedly fell in December as households in the eurozone's second-largest economy cut back on food, energy and manufactured goods, statistics showed Tuesday.

French consumer spending contracted 0.8% on month in December and expanded 1.5% on year, national statistics agency Insee said. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.3% increase on month and a 2.2% increase on year.

Insee said consumer spending was dragged down by a 2.7% cut in energy consumption as a result of warm weather. Spending on food fell 0.6% in the month and spending on manufactured goods contracted 0.2%.

The statistics agency revised its reading for November to a 0.6% increase from a previous 0.4% increase.

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