World Bulletin / News Desk
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault cut France's economic growth forecasts on Tuesday, saying GDP was likely to grow 0.3 percent this year, rather than a budgeted 0.7 percent, and 1.2 percent in 2012 instead of a previously slated 1.75 percent.
In a keynote speech to parliament spelling out the new Socialist government's plans for the five years ahead, Ayrault confirmed plans to hire more teachers and police, create 150,000 state-aided jobs and promote more competitive industry.
To help industrial innovation, a public investment bank would be put in place before the end of this year, he said, and the government would also announce a plan shortly to address problems in the auto sector.
Since Britain voted last June to exit the European Union, the country's finance, car and airline sectors have been lobbying the loudest for continued access to the European single market.
France remained Germany's second largest trading partner while the US slipped from first to third place, as bilateral trade contracted by five percent to 165 billion euros.
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The unit was at 19.69 to the dollar, strengthening from around 19.90 on Thursday and up more than 10 percent from its record lows around 22.00 in early January.
The country's federal, state and local governments together achieved an overall surplus in their public finances of 23.7 billion euros ($25 billion) last year, according to Germany's statistics office Destatis.
Exchange rate dipped to as low as 3.5756 points, lowest figure since Jan 4.
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Aude Fleurant, head of the armaments program at Sipri, told AFP that "competition is fierce among European producers" with France, Germany and Britain in the lead.
PSA, the parent company of France's Peugeot, Citroen and DS, has confirmed it is interested in taking over Opel, the German arm of US giant General Motors.
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Another positive assessment of the US economy and reassurance over tax reform from President Donald Trump was not enough to spur further buying in Asia after the past week's rally.
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