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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 09:02 GMT
Mixed signals from French economy
Renault production line
Figures show French industry is picking up pace
The French economy picked up speed at the end of 2004, official figures show - but still looks set to have fallen short of the government's hopes.

According to state statistics body INSEE, growth for the three months to December was a seasonally-adjusted 0.7-0.8%, ahead of the 0.6% forecast.

If confirmed, that would be the best quarterly showing since early 2002.

It leaves GDP up 2.3% for the full year, but short of the 2.5% which the French government had predicted.


Despite the apparent shortfall in annual economic growth, the good quarterly figures - a so-called "flash estimate" - mark a continuing trend of improving indicators for the health of the French economy.

The government is reiterating a 2.5% target for 2005, while the European Central Bank is making positive noises for the 12-nation eurozone as a whole.

Also on Friday, France's industrial output for December was released, showing 0.7% growth.

"The numbers are good," said David Naude, economist at Deutsche Bank.

"They send a positive signal of a rebound in output... and open the way for a continuation in that trend into the New Year."

Service sector activity improved in January, hitting a seven-month high.

But unemployment remains high at about 10%.

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