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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
French business confidence falls
Students and trade unionists protesting in Paris
It seems the protests have yet to seriously concern bosses
French business confidence fell slightly in March, a key monthly survey has suggested, but bosses are more optimistic about future growth.

Statistics office Insee said its sentiment index fell to 105 in March, from February's upwardly revised 106.

Despite the current mass student protests in French cities, the report found that "industrial growth is moving in the right direction overall".

Yet some economists were disappointed by the latest figure.


"It's rather a negative signal," said Emmanuel Ferry, economist at Exane BNP Paribas.

"French industry is underperforming compared to global industrial demand."

French students and trade unions are protesting against a change to France's labour laws that would make it easier for French bosses to sack younger workers.

The law, which is currently due to come into place in April, will allow firms to sack under 26-year-olds within their first two years of employment without giving any reason.

France's Finance Minister Thierry Breton predicted last week that the French economy will grow between 2% and 2.5% in 2006, up from last year's 1.4%.

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