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French Jobless Claims Rise as Stalled Growth Prompts Cuts

France’s unemployment rate rose in the fourth quarter as the euro-area debt crisis undermined confidence among executives, and economic growth cooled.

About 9.8 percent of the population was unemployed, according to International Labour Organization standards, up from 9.7 in the previous three months, national statistics office Insee in Paris said today. Excluding France’s overseas territories, the rate was 9.4 percent, compared with a median forecast of 9.6 percent in a Bloomberg News survey of eight economists.

French growth slowed to 0.2 percent in the final three months of last year, prompting companies including Alcatel-Lucent and PSA Peugeot Citroen SA to prepare job cuts. The number of people actively looking for work has climbed for eight straight months and reached a 12-year high of 2.86 million at the end of January, the Labor Ministry said this week.

There is “room for stabilization but little for improvement as growth is expected to remain low,” Fabrice Montagne, an economist at Barclays Capital in London, said before the data were published.

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