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UPDATE 1-French economy rebounded in late 2013, figures suggest
January 10, 2014 / 9:21 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-French economy rebounded in late 2013, figures suggest

* Central bank estimates Q4 GDP growth of 0.5 percent

* November industrial output easily beats expectations

* One-off factors helped boost production figure

PARIS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - French GDP is likely to have grown strongly in the final quarter of last year and industrial output surged in November, figures showed on Friday, marking a welcome turnaround for the euro zone’s second largest economy.

The Bank of France estimated growth reached 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous one, signalling a strong pick-up after a contraction of 0.1 percent in the three months to September.

A solid improvement will be seized on by unpopular President Francois Hollande, who has struggled to engineer an economic revival in a country increasingly being labelled the laggard in a time of nascent euro zone recovery.

The INSEE official statistics agency, due to give its preliminary fourth quarter growth reading on Feb. 14, estimated last month that the economy grew 0.4 percent over the period.

The central bank gave its third and final estimate for fourth-quarter growth, unchanged from the previous projection, in its monthly business survey.

The survey also showed morale in the industrial sector eased back to its long-term average of 100 last month from 101 in November while sentiment in the services sector was unchanged at 92, the central bank said.

In a sign the recovery is taking hold, panellists in both sectors told the Bank of France that they expect activity to rebound in January.

November industrial production data published on Friday offered support to the Bank of France’s view that the economy gathered steam at the end of last year as output surged far more than expected.

INSEE said industrial production rose 1.3 percent in November from the previous month, easily beating economists’ average forecast of a 0.4 percent rise.

However, much of the improvement was due to temporary factors. Electricity production jumped as temperatures fell after a particularly mild October and refining activity surged as a plant came back on line after closure for maintenance, INSEE said.

Still, the data contrasted sharply with closely watched purchasing managers surveys which have flagged a slowdown in business activity in recent months.

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