French industrial output rises more than expected

Sign reads "No more fuel" at a petrol station near Nantes in October 2010
Image caption Petrol production rose strongly from last year, when strikes caused disruption

French industrial output rose by a greater-than-expected 1.1% in November, lifted by production of electronic equipment and refinery output.

Manufacturing output increased by 1.3%, said national statistics office Insee.

Year-on-year, manufacturing production was up 2.2% as output from refineries surged from weak levels a year ago during strikes.

Separately, the Bank of France said the economy had failed to grow in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Insee, who provide the official growth figures, said last month that the economy had grown by 0.3% in the third quarter and forecast a contraction of 0.2% in the last three months of 2011.

But if the Bank of France's estimate is correct, it should allow the government to come very close to meeting its full-year target of 1.5% growth.

Insee will release fourth quarter growth figures on 15 February.

Meanwhile, ratings agency Fitch has said that it does not expect to downgrade France's triple-A credit rating in 2012.

There was much speculation at the end of last year that the country might lose its top-notch rating, as the crisis in the eurozone deepened.

Both Fitch and rival agency Standard & Poor's have warned that France could be downgraded, citing a lack of progress by leaders to find a solution to the crisis and France's large structural budget deficit and high government debt burden.

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