Investment strategy correspondent, London
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Mar 29, 2015

French local election runoff to test far-right strength

PARIS (Reuters) – French voters elect thousands of local councillors on Sunday in a test of the far-right National Front’s growing hold on grassroots politics.

While the FN came second in the first round of voting last week, in a setback to its claims that it has become the country’s first party, it did win one in four votes and is all but certain to see a big jump from its current two councilors.

Mar 27, 2015

French consumers more confident, PM upbeat on growth

PARIS (Reuters) – France will achieve solid growth faster than expected, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday, as data showed households more optimistic than they have been in four and a half years.

Speaking two days ahead of local elections where his unpopular Socialist party expects a severe defeat, Valls said improving economic data meant growth could be strong enough to bring unemployment down this year.

Mar 26, 2015

France cuts 2015 deficit target, eyes economic recovery

PARIS (Reuters) – France cut its budget deficit target for this year on Thursday and said economic growth could beat the government’s 1 percent forecast, after reporting a smaller-than-expected fiscal gap for 2014.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin said France, which has repeatedly missed its fiscal targets, is confident it will finally bring the deficit below an EU cap of 3 percent of GDP on schedule in 2017.

Mar 25, 2015

French business morale at 3-year high as economy shows signs of life

PARIS, March 25 (Reuters) – French business morale was at
its highest for nearly three years in March, adding to signs the
euro zone’s No. 2 economy is emerging from stagnation on the
back of lower oil prices and a weaker euro.

The composite indicator of morale rose to 96 from 94 in
February, its highest since April 2012, lifted by retail trade
and by an improvement in the services sector.

Mar 23, 2015

Sarkozy passes French poll test but has long way to go

PARIS (Reuters) – Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has put a faltering comeback back on track by steering his conservatives to victory over the far-right National Front in local elections, but major obstacles remain to his presidential ambitions.

Sunday’s results in the first round of voting mean his UMP party is well placed to make sweeping gains in the March 29 run-off for councillors in France’s “departements”, at the cost of President Francois Hollande’s Socialists.

Mar 19, 2015

PM dismisses ‘French Patriot Act’ fears as spies get more powers

PARIS (Reuters) – French spy agencies will have more powers to bug and track would-be Islamist attackers and authorities will be able to force Internet providers to monitor suspicious behavior under a draft law unveiled on Thursday.

Just over two months after 17 people were killed in attacks by homegrown Islamist gunmen in Paris, Prime Minister Manuel Valls unveiled a bill to allow spy agencies to tap phones and emails without seeking permission from a judge.

Mar 12, 2015

Tsipras promises Greece will keep its word amid German spat

PARIS/ATHENS (Reuters) – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tried to reassure euro zone partners on Thursday that Greece would stick to an extended bailout agreement with its international creditors even as a war of words rumbled on between Athens and Berlin.

Tsipras used a visit to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an inter-governmental think-tank, to make his case for a long-term restructuring of Greece’s debt while promising to implement agreed reforms.

Mar 12, 2015

Coeure says ECB’s QE program kicks off without a hitch

PARIS (Reuters) – The European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program has kicked off without a hitch, ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure said on Thursday, adding that the central bank had no problems in finding bonds to buy.

The ECB has bought 9.8 billion euros worth of assets in three days, Coeure said, with an average maturity of nine years, putting it well on track to reaching a total of 60 billion euros in bonds in March, as intended by the ECB. The program began on Monday.

Mar 10, 2015

EU gives France third extension to cut its budget deficit

BRUSSELS, March 10 (Reuters) – European Union finance
ministers gave France two more years on Tuesday to cut its
budget deficit to within EU limits, extending the deadline for
the third time since 2009 as Paris struggles to enact reforms.

The euro zone’s second biggest economy has repeatedly missed
deadlines and budget consolidation targets and, under EU budget
rules sharpened during the sovereign debt crisis, was facing
fines of up to 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) by late last year.

Mar 9, 2015

EU, Greece to start technical loan talks Wednesday

BRUSSELS, March 9 (Reuters) – Warning Greece it had “no time
to lose”, euro zone ministers agreed technical talks between
finance experts from Athens and its international creditors
would start on Wednesday with the aim of unlocking further

“We’ve talked about this long enough now,” an
impatient-sounding Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem
said after chairing Monday’s meeting of euro zone colleagues,
their first since Feb. 20, when they extended Greece’s bailout
deal to June.