Investment strategy correspondent, London
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May 17, 2013

ECB to keep monetary policy loose for as long as needed

ORLEANS, France (Reuters) – The European Central Bank will keep its loose and growth-supportive monetary policy stance in place for “quite a long time”, ECB executive board members said on Friday.

With the euro zone economy stuck in recession, the ECB cut its main refinancing rate to a record low of 0.5 percent and extended its provision of unlimited funds to banks by a year at its May policy meeting,

May 16, 2013

France’s Hollande urges euro zone government

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Francois Hollande called on Thursday for an economic government for the euro zone with its own budget, the right to borrow, a harmonized tax system and a full-time president.

At a 150-minute news conference marking his first year in office, a day after economic data showed France had slipped into recession, the Socialist leader defended his record on economic reform and budget discipline and told the French people they would have to work “a bit longer” for a full pension in future.

May 15, 2013

France must present credible reform plan: EU’s Barroso

PARIS (Reuters) – European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday France needed to present a credible program of structural economic reforms if the EU is to grant it two more years to bring its budget deficit down as promised.

Barroso, who was due to meet French President Francois Hollande in Brussels later in the day, was speaking as new data showed Europe’s second largest economy slipped into a shallow recession.

May 15, 2013

Germany ekes out growth, France slides into recession

BERLIN/PARIS, May 15 (Reuters) – Germany’s economy crept
back into growth in the first quarter of the year, after a sharp
contraction at the end of 2012, while France slipped into
recession, data showed on Wednesday.

Germany grew by just 0.1 percent on the quarter, weaker than
expected as a harsh winter prevented a stronger rebound.

May 14, 2013

Divisions hamper Europe’s plans to tackle failing banks

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Central Bank clashed with Germany on Tuesday over how quickly the euro zone should complete a system to deal with failing banks.

A separate rift also emerged at a European Union finance ministers meeting over whether or when big depositors should suffer losses, as they did in Cyprus’s bailout.

May 13, 2013

Spain, Portugal push for full banking union as Germany finds hurdles

BRUSSELS/MADRID May 13 (Reuters) – Spain and Portugal called
on Monday for the euro zone to complete a banking union as
Germany underscored legal hurdles before a central element of
the plan to deal with failing banks can be introduced.

“It is indispensable that we stick to the agreed calendar on
banking union and that we take steps to make sure families and
small companies receive credit,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano
Rajoy told reporters.

Apr 30, 2013

Empty shops, tight wallets threaten France with recession

PARIS, April 30 (Reuters) – French consumers bought fewer
cars, tables and chairs, and clothes in the first part of the
year, challenging the government’s pledge to steer the euro
zone’s second largest economy away from recession.

Consumer spending accounts for more than half of France’s
output and is the motor of the economy. It fell last year for
the first time in 19 years.

Apr 30, 2013

Heating cold houses gives unexpected boost to French spending

PARIS, April 30 (Reuters) – French consumer spending
rebounded in March, largely thanks to increased household
heating to combat unusually cold weather, but it was not enough
to stop a quarter-on-quarter decline.

Consumption, which accounts for over half of France’s
output, is the motor of the French economy but high
unemployment is making households cautious about spending.

Apr 25, 2013

French jobless claims hit all-time high in March

PARIS (Reuters) – More people were out of job in France in March than at any other time in the past, data on Thursday showed, a bleak record that cast new doubt on government promises to reverse the unemployment trend by year-end.

The new 3.225 million record, an 11.5 percent annual increase, is a symbolic blow to Socialist President Francois Hollande, whose approval ratings have sunk to the lowest of any modern French leader in recent months as jobless claims soared.

Apr 17, 2013

France plans spending cuts as fiscal targets slip

PARIS (Reuters) – The French government said on Wednesday it would have a higher-than-planned public debt and deficit throughout its mandate but hoped to appease EU partners with spending cuts that will bring the underlying budget to surplus in 2016.

Paris is battling to persuade the European Commission and euro zone leaders to grant it more time to knock its finances into shape after it conceded earlier this year it would break a pledge to cut its deficit to 3 percent of output in 2013.