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French economy contracts 0.1 percent in Q3

PARIS -- France's economy contracted 0.1 percent in the third quarter, the statistics body INSEE confirmed Tuesday, but indicated the country should dodge recession by growing at the end of 2013.

INSEE revised up second quarter GDP growth to 0.6 percent from 0.5 percent.

The statistics agency also confirmed its growth forecast for the fourth quarter, first announced last week, of 0.4 percent.

That wards off the threat of a double dip recession in the eurozone's second economy.

France escaped recession with the second quarter growth, but would fall back into recession if it posted a second consecutive quarterly contraction at the end of this year.

INSEE predicted growth of 0.2 percent for the whole of 2013.

The latest figures point to continuing challenges for France, which has seen its recovery wilt while neighboring Germany continues to post solid growth.

Much of the German success has been due to exports, but INSEE figures show France struggling to sell more of its products abroad.

Exports fell by 1.3 percent in the third quarter, after having increased by 1.9 percent in the previous three-month period.

Imports continued to increase, however, rising by 0.9 percent after rising by 1.5 percent in the second quarter.

Thus foreign trade provided a net negative contribution to GDP in the third quarter, of 0.6 points, after having been made a positive contribution of 0.1 points in the second quarter.

Household spending, an important element in the French economy, rose by only 0.1 percent in the third quarter as household purchasing power declined by 0.1 percent.

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