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Francois Hollande

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  • PARIS, May 15- Weak consumer spending and business investment brought France's economy to a standstill in the first quarter of the year, raising doubts over the government's growth forecast and its pledge to meet EU deficit targets.

  • France will now need 0.5 percent growth each quarter to meet a government forecast of 1 percent growth for 2014, Natixis Asset Management chief economist Philippe Waechter estimated, saying that would be hard to achieve. If we don't achieve it France will not meet its targets for 2014 and 2015. ".

  • PARIS, May 15- The French government has issued a decree allowing it to block foreign takeovers of French firms in "strategic" sectors, throwing up a potential roadblock to General Electric's $16.9 billion bid for Alstom's energy assets.

  • *France sells bonds on Thursday. France will now need 0.5 percent growth each quarter to meet a government forecast of 1 percent growth for 2014, Natixis Asset Management chief economist Philippe Waechter estimated, saying that would be difficult to achieve. If we don't achieve it France will not meet its targets for 2014 and 2015. ".

  • PARIS, May 15- The French government has issued a decree allowing it to block foreign takeovers of French firms in "strategic" sectors, throwing up a potential roadblock to General Electric's $16.9 billion bid for Alstom's energy assets.

  • *Alstom, euro debates underscore Franco-German imbalance. Beneath the surface, Europe's most important relationship remains awkward and strained, dogged by an economic imbalance between Berlin and Paris that has seemed to widen even as the bloc's financial crisis has eased.

  • BRUSSELS, May 12- The European Union was set to take a cautious step towards extending sanctions against Russia on Monday, targeting companies, as well as people, linked to Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

  • BRUSSELS, May 12- The European Union is set to step up pressure on Russia on Monday by taking a first cautious step towards extending sanctions to companies, as well as people, linked to Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

  • *Says meeting helped free OSCE observers in east Ukraine. BERLIN, May 11- Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Sunday his controversial meeting with Vladimir Putin helped win the release of European military observers held in eastern Ukraine days later and he urged the West to stop focusing on sanctions on Russia.

  • *Vote organised on ad hoc basis, ballot paper confusion. *West fears slide into civil war. MARIUPOL/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine, May 11- Rebels pressed ahead with a referendum on self-rule in east Ukraine on Sunday and fighting flared anew in a conflict that has raised fears of civil war and pitched Russia and the West into their worst crisis since the Cold War.

  • *U.S. says no sign Russia pulling troops back from Ukraine border. Barricades of tyres and scrap metal blocked streets in the port city of Mariupol and in Slaviansk, centres of an uprising that has unleashed the worst crisis between the West and Russia since the Cold War.

  • MARIUPOL/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine, May 11- Ukrainian leader Oleksander Turchinov warned pro-Russian eastern regions they would be stepping into the abyss if they voted for self-rule on Sunday in a referendum that has raised Western fears of a slide to full civil war.

  • *Armed pro-Russians block streets, no sign of Ukraine forces. MARIUPOL/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine, May 10- Acting Ukrainian President Oleksander Turchinov told eastern regions gripped by a pro-Russian uprising that they would be courting catastrophe if they voted "yes" in a separatist referendum on Sunday.

  • *Hollande says top concern is for Siemens, Alstom employees. *Alstom reviewing $16.9 bln offer from General Electric. STRALSUND, Germany, May 10- Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday the German government would support a tie-up between engineering firm Siemens and French rival Alstom if the corporate decision-makers decide that it would make sense.

  • *Armed pro-Russians block streets, no sign of Ukraine forces. MARIUPOL/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine- May 10- Ukrainian acting President Oleksander Turchinov told eastern regions gripped by a pro-Russian uprising that they would be courting catastrophe if they voted "yes" in a separatist referendum on Sunday.

  • BERLIN, May 9- France's economic woes are the result of poor policy choices at home and Paris should stop blaming its problems on the strength of the euro, Jean-Claude Juncker, the centre-right candidate for European Commission president, told Reuters.

  • May 8- General Electric, which wants to buy Alstom's energy businesses, is not in talks with Japanese conglomerate Toshiba Corp about the French company's power grid business, a GE France spokesman said on Thursday. The Nikkei business daily said Toshiba would offer to buy Alstom's power grid unit if GE purchased the French firm's energy businesses.

  • PARIS, May 7- Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg stepped up France's push for a weaker euro on Wednesday, saying political leaders had the right to assess the right level for the currency in a position completely at odds with Germany's.

  • PARIS/ BERLIN, May 7- French factories produced much less than expected in March while German industry orders unexpectedly fell the most in 1-1/ 2 years, data showed on Wednesday, feeding speculation of fresh European Central Bank action to support the euro zone recovery.

  • PARIS, May 7- French factories produced much less than expected in March while the country's trade deficit worsened, casting doubt on President Francois Hollande's latest predictions that the economy is finally turning around.