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French economy to shrink in 2009, grow in 2010

PARIS - PARIS (AP) — The French economy will emerge slowly from recession in 2010, with weak growth forecast for both the first and second quarters, France's national statistics agency said Thursday.

In its quarterly economic outlook, the Insee national statistics bureau forecast that gross domestic product would grow 0.4 percent in the first quarter and 0.3 percent in the second quarter.

"The scenario in France is one of a difficult turnaround, without any acceleration of growth at a pace of about 0.3-0.4 percent in the first two quarters of 2010," said Sandrine Duchene, director of the Insee forecasting department.

Unemployment is forecast to rise to 9.4 percent in the fourth quarter and to 9.8 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

The agency trimmed its outlook for France this year, saying it expects the economy to shrink 2.3 percent — its worst performance since 1949. The agency previously forecast a 2.2 percent decline for 2009.

The French government's own forecast is for the economy to grow 0.75 percent next year.


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