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France reports 'alarming' output drop

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=French industrial production dropped for a second straight month in June, statistics bureau Insee said Wednesday, alarming analysts who had been looking for a modest increase.

[PARIS] French industrial production dropped for a second straight month in June, statistics bureau Insee said Wednesday, alarming analysts who had been looking for a modest increase.

Output fell 0.8 per cent in June, after dropping 0.5 per cent in May, with oil refining posting the largest single decline after strikes in France's oil industry.

Connor Campbell, an analyst at Spreadex, called the latest French reading "alarming" and "far worse" than the May drop and the 0.3 per cent increase that economists had been expecting for June.

Manufacturing output alone fell 1.2 per cent in June after a revised 0.1 per cent increase the previous month.

Stoppages at French refineries in early June in protest at a new French labour law pushed output in the refining and coking sector down by a massive 12.4 per cent, Insee said.

The food, transport and capital goods sectors also all saw declines.

Energy and water extraction was one of the few bright spots in the data, rising by 1.9 per cent.

For the second quarter as a whole, industrial production was down by 0.1 per cent.

Wednesday's figures put a dent in economic recovery hopes for the eurozone's second-biggest economy after Germany.

Insee last month said the French economy failed to grow at all in the second quarter, dashing government hopes for a small expansion.

The finance ministry called the flat figure "disappointing", given that Insee had predicted 0.3 per cent growth and the Bank of France 0.2 per cent.

The government is still looking for full-year growth of 1.5 per cent this year.

AFP