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FRANCE

France lowers growth forecast

French Economy Minister Michel Sapin
French Economy Minister Michel Sapin Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

The French government has cut its forecast of economic growth this year in another setback to President François Hollande's prospects for standing fo reelection.

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The government now expects 2016's growth to be 1.4 percent, not 1.5 percent as previously hoped, Economy Minister Michel Sapin said on Friday morning.

The country's top finance committee declared the forecast achievable, while pointing out that predictions by the Insee statistical institute, the OECD and the International Monetary Fund are lower at 1.3 percent.

Sapin said the lower figure would not have any effect on unemployment, which rose slightly in the third quarter after a previous decline, insisting that "we have not created so many jobs ... since the start of the crisis".

The disappointing growth and unemployment figures are a further blow to Hollande, who has said he will announce whether he will stand in 2017 presidential election in December.

He has promised not to stand unless he makes a significant dent in France's unemployment rate.

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