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France returns to growth with 0.3% expansion in third quarter

People work at Euronext stock exchanges market in La Defense, near Paris, on Nov 12, 2015.

[PARIS] France's economy returned to growth in the third quarter of this year, expanding by 0.3 per cent, after having earlier stalled, the national statistics agency said Friday.

The initial estimate of 0.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth in gross domestic product in July to September followed no expansion in the second quarter, which had raised concerns about the nation's weak economic recovery.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin told AFP that the latest figures by INSEE mean that France's economy will grow "by at least 1.1 per cent" for 2015 as a whole, adding he believed the country had "exited the period of extremely weak growth that had lasted too long".

He said the French economy had entered a "new phase" which would likely mean faster growth next year.

The government's official forecast for 2016 is for the economy to expand by 1.5 per cent, still a level too low to bring down the high level of unemployment in which one person in 10 has no job.