French growth slows after strong start

The French economy should expand by 2.1 percent this year, but growth has already begun to slow after a strong pickup in the first quarter, the INSEE national statistics institute said on Thursday.

INSEE said it was downgrading its second quarter growth forecast to 0.2 percent from 0.4 percent, and expected gains of 0.5 percent in both the third and fourth quarters.

“After a sharp acceleration in the first quarter, we expect a clear slowdown in the second,” INSEE said.

First quarter growth had come in at 1.0 percent, well above INSEE’s estimate for 0.6 percent, as the economy enjoyed a strong boost.

The government currently forecasts 2011 growth at 2.0 percent.