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French economy sees fastest growth in years

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Finance Minister Michel Sapin. Photo: AFP
08:54 CET+01:00
France's economy grew 1.1 percent in 2015, its biggest jump in four years which the government hailed as confirmation of a turnaround after years of economic stagnation, official statistics showed on Friday.
The eurozone's second-biggest economy posted growth of 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 0.3 percent in the July-September period, national statistics agency INSEE said.
   
The full-year growth figure, up from 0.2 percent in 2014, was in line with the government's predictions but lagged the 1.5-percent growth expected in the wider eurozone in 2015, according to INSEE.
  
Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the fact that output had continued expanding in the fourth quarter, despite devastating jihadist attacks that left 130 people dead in November and dealt a severe blow to tourism, showed "the French did not give up".
   
"2015 was the year of the recovery," Sapin told AFP, predicting that the trend would "intensify in 2016" and spur job creation.
   
In a sign of increased consumer confidence, consumer spending shot up 1.4 percent in 2015, while business investment grew 2 percent year-on-year.
   
The figures provide some rare good news for the Socialist government after further disappointment on the jobs front this week.

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On Wednesday, the labour ministry announced that unemployment - the scourge of President Francois Hollande's administration - had risen again in December, taking the number of jobless to a new record of 3.59 million.

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