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French economy grew 0.6 pct in Q4 on business investment, exports

PARIS, Jan 30 (Reuters) - The French economy grew 0.6 percent in the final three months of last year as stronger business investment and exports offset slower consumer spending, a first estimate from the INSEE official statistics institute showed on Tuesday. The reading was in line with a Reuters poll of 33 economists, who had also forecast on average that the euro zone's second-biggest economy had grown by 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter. The economy advanced 0.5 percent in the third quarter, which INSEE revised down from 0.6 percent previously. The result meant that for 2017 as a whole, the economy grew 1.9 percent, which means France had its best year in terms of growth last year since 2011. In the fourth quarter, consumer spending growth slowed to 0.3 percent from the previous three months after 0.6 percent in the third quarter. But business investment picked up to 1.5 percent from 1.1 percent in the previous three months, as corporate confidence soared in the second half of the year after President Emmanuel Macron's election in May, on the back of an agenda for economic reforms. Overall, domestic demand contributed 0.5 percentage points to growth in the quarter while companies drawing down inventories subtracted 0.5 percentage points. Foreign trade contributed 0.6 percentage points to overall growth thanks the strongest increase in exports since the second quarter of 2010.

MAIN FIGURES

QUARTERS YEARS Q1'17 Q2'17 Q3'17 Q4'17 2016 2017 Total GDP 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.6 1.1 1.9 Imports 1.0 0.0 2.4 0.7 4.2 4.3 Household 0.1 0.4 0.6 0.3 2.1 1.3

consumption

Public 0.3 0.5 0.6 0.4 1.2 1.5

consumption

Investment 1.6 1.1 0.9 1.1 2.7 3.7 - Business 2.3 1.2 1.1 1.5 3.4 4.3

investment

- Household 1.6 1.3 1.0 0.7 2.4 5.1

investment

- Public -0.6 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.1 0.8

investment

Exports -0.7 2.2 1.1 2.6 1.9 3.5

Contributions to growth:

Domestic demand 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.5 2.0 1.9

exstocks

Stocks 0.6 0.5 0.3 0.5 0.1 0.4

variations

Trade balance 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.8 0.4

For a graphic of GDP by contributions: http://reut.rs/2oQ8Pxu For further details from INSEE: http://www.insee.fr/en/themes/info-rapide.asp?id=26

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)