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French Business Sentiment Improves In March

Confidence among France's businesses improved markedly in March with their production outlook improving significantly, a survey by the statistical office Insee showed Friday.

The headline synthetic index rose to 96 in March from a February's revised reading of 93. Economists expected an increase to 93 from February's original reading of 92.

Business leaders in the manufacturing industry found that their past activity continued to weaken. Total order books improved slightly but were still rated as low. Export order books improved markedly during the month, the survey report said.

Looking at the personal production outlook, which improved markedly, activity in manufacturing industry would be more dynamic in the next months, Insee said. The corresponding index rose to 6 from -1 in February.

The indicator for general production outlook, which represents business leaders' opinion on French industry as a whole, rose to -15 from -27 in the previous month.

Nevertheless, the purchasing managers' survey by Markit Economics revealed Thursday that the French private sector contracted for the first time in four months in March.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Francois Baroin said that the economy is expected to grow 0.7 percent this year, faster than 0.5 percent predicted earlier. In 2013, the economy is seen growing 1.75 percent, the minister said in a statement.

Insee also revised up its estimates for the French economy on Thursday. It said the economic activity will remain stable in the first quarter and grow 0.2 percent in the second quarter.

by RTT Staff Writer

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