Sarkozy embraces small good news for the economy

Associated Press + More

PARIS (AP) — President Nicolas Sarkozy is playing up tiny signs of a pickup in the stagnant French economy as he tries to convince skeptical voters to hand him a second term.

France's finance minister revised growth estimates for this year up to a still-anemic 0.7 percent, from 0.5 percent earlier forecast. The state statistics agency reported Tuesday that the economy grew 1.7 percent last year.

Worries about the weak economy have clouded the campaign for presidential elections in April and May.

Sarkozy on Tuesday hailed "signs of economic rebound that allow us to believe the end of the tunnel is near."

The frontrunner in the polls, Socialist Francois Hollande, says it's too early to celebrate, and noted growing unemployment.

He says on Europe-1 radio, "we are in a very difficult situation."

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