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French deficit and public debt in 2013 increase more than gov't expectations

PARIS -- French public deficit and debt in 2013 were higher than previous government estimates, official data showed on Monday, dealing a fresh blow to President Francois Hollande a day after disastrous local polls.

French public deficit stood at 4.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), compared with 4.9 percent the previous year, according to data released by the INSEE statistics agency. Previous government estimates said it would stand at 4.1 percent.

Public debt meanwhile amounted to 93.5 percent of GDP, compared with 90.6 percent the previous year. The government earlier estimated it would stand at 93.4 percent of GDP.

The figures dealt a further blow to beleaguered Hollande, who on Monday was reeling from catastrophic local election results that saw his Socialist party trounced by the center-right UMP as well as gains for the far-right National Front.

France is the eurozone's second-biggest economy, and the state of its finances are closely watched by its partners, in particular economic powerhouse Germany.

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