France avoids recession after 0.2 pct growth in Q3

PARIS (AP) — France's economy avoided dropping into recession in the third quarter.

The national statistics agency said Thursday that the country's economy grew 0.2 percent in the July to September period from the previous quarter. But Insee also revised down figures for the second quarter, saying the economy shrank 0.1 percent then. It had previously said growth was stagnant.

In the third quarter, France had been widely expected to start its slide into recession, technically defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP.

Fixing France's economy amid a European-wide crisis is President Francois Hollande's biggest challenge. He has promised to rein in massive government spending and reduce the deficit, largely by raising taxes. But many are still waiting to see how he will reform the country's stringent labor rules.