Investment strategy correspondent, London
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May 7, 2014

Weak French output casts doubts on growth, German industry orders slump

PARIS/BERLIN, May 7 (Reuters) – French factories produced
much less than expected in March while German industry orders
unexpectedly fell the most in 1-1/2 years, data showed on
Wednesday, feeding speculation of fresh European Central Bank
action to support the euro zone recovery.

France also reported a wider trade deficit, casting doubt on
President Francois Hollande’s recent predictions that the bloc’s
second-largest economy is finally turning around.

May 7, 2014

Weak French industrial output casts doubts on growth, German industry orders tumble

PARIS, May 7 (Reuters) – French factories produced much less
than expected in March while the country’s trade deficit
worsened, casting doubt on President Francois Hollande’s latest
predictions that the economy is finally turning around.

Coming after a first-quarter drop in consumer spending, the
data released on Wednesday underlined the challenges facing the
euro zone’s second-largest economy.

Nov 28, 2013

France divided over prostitution crackdown

PARIS (Reuters) – Local movie stars have signed petitions, political parties are split, and sex workers complain the government is doing them out of a living. France is divided over a bid to crack down on prostitution.

Lawmakers will start debating on Friday a bill aimed at stemming prostitution with steep fines to clients – a radical switch from France’s traditionally tolerant stance that will give it some of the toughest legislation in Europe.

Nov 27, 2013

Spain, France reverse roles as economic fortunes diverge

MADRID/PARIS, Nov 27 (Reuters) – One year ago, when Spain’s
Mariano Rajoy travelled to Paris to meet France’s Francois
Hollande for their annual bilateral summit, only one question
was on the agenda: if and when Spain would seek a European
bailout for its crippled public finances.

As the Spanish prime minister and the French president
prepare to meet again in Madrid on Wednesday at 1450 local (1350
GMT), many believe their countries have reversed roles.

Nov 26, 2013

French employers tell government to stop knocking business

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Socialist government must carry out a proper tax reform that will cut the pressure on businesses and stop knocking the country’s entrepreneurs, France’s “boss of bosses” Pierre Gattaz said in an interview.

President Francois Hollande has had a rocky relationship with business since coming to power in May last year, with efforts to ease up labor rules and cut red tape often drowned by business anger at rising taxes and complex regulations.

Nov 25, 2013

France challenges taboos as tax reform talks start

PARIS, Nov 25 (Reuters) – France’s prime minister faced
widespread scepticism as he began talks on Monday aimed at
overhauling a notoriously complex national tax system, with
labour unions flatly rejecting changes to one of its
cornerstones.

The government, at record lows in opinion polls months
before local elections, announced an overhaul of the tax system
last week to try to stem growing anger against the tax burden
and its own policy swings on the matter.

Nov 22, 2013

ECB’s chief economist warns of deflationary pressures in euro zone

FRANKFURT/PARIS (Reuters) – The European Central Bank’s chief economist said on Friday the euro zone faces deflationary pressures, and the bank’s president stressed that interest rates must remain low “because the economy is weak”.

With euro zone inflation running at 0.7 percent, well below its target of just under 2 percent, a raft of ECB speakers this week have said it is open to taking fresh measures to support the economy.

Nov 22, 2013

ECB’s Praet warns of deflationary pressures in euro zone

FRANKFURT/PARIS (Reuters) – The European Central Bank’s chief economist said on Friday the euro zone faces deflationary pressures, and the bank’s president stressed that interest rates must remain low “because the economy is weak”.

With euro zone inflation running at 0.7 percent, well below its target of just under 2 percent, a raft of ECB speakers this week have said it is open to taking fresh measures to support the economy.

Nov 19, 2013

French government takes risky gamble with tax reform plan

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s embattled government has taken a gamble by announcing an overhaul of the country’s complex tax system, a move it hopes will prevent popular anger from growing further but which could well backfire.

Violent protests over a green levy, fierce business criticism over their tax burden and record-low popularity dragged even lower by plans for more contributions in 2014, have pushed the government to announce a revamp of the tax system.

Oct 31, 2013

France can bank on EU budget leniency before polls

PARIS (Reuters) – Economic fragility and fear of a far-right political backlash are preventing a clash between France and the European Commission when the latter makes first use of its augmented budget supervision powers next month.

The outgoing commission is cautious in seeking more austerity its last year in office, wanting to protect what little economic recovery has been achieved and to avoid fuelling a massive anti-European vote in elections next year.