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French 2013 deficit, debt higher than expected

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PARIS (AP) — France’s state statistics agency says the deficit shrank less than expected last year, and debt continued to grow to 93.5 percent of GDP.

The figures released Monday are the latest sign of trouble for the unpopular Socialist government, expected to be replaced imminently.

The Socialists suffered a blow in nationwide municipal elections Sunday amid widespread disappointment at President Francois Hollande’s handling of the stagnant economy and persistently high unemployment.

The Insee statistics agency says the deficit was 4.3 percent in 2013, above the 4.1 percent the government had promised and above EU targets.

The French economy avoided sinking into a new recession, growing 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, up from a 0.1 percent drop in the previous quarter. But the overall prospects for growth are slow.

Associated Press

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