French economy to grow modestly in third, fourth quarters -INSEE

PARIS (Reuters) – France is on course for modest economic growth heading into the end of the year as lower food inflation offers consumers some relief, the INSEE official statistics agency said on Thursday.

The euro zone’s second biggest economy is set to grow 0.1% in the third quarter from the previous three months and 0.2% in the following quarter, INSEE said in its economic outlook, leaving its forecasts unchanged from last month.

That should leave France with annual growth of 0.9% this year, INSEE said, forecasting slightly less than the 1% the government’s budget planning is based on.

Inflation was seen easing from 4.9% in September to 4.4% by year end as food inflation, a major headache for consumers and the government this year, falls from 9.6% to 6.9%.

The rate expected at the end of the year, calculated using a national inflation gauge rather than EU-harmonised methodology, was slightly higher than expected last month, with higher energy prices since then adding some pressure.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by John Stonestreet)