France's economy slows in second-quarter for first time since 2013

September 23, 2016 3:24 AM EDT

Tourists protect themselves from the rain under umbrellas in front of the Eiffel tower as they visit the French capital during summer holidays in Paris, France July 19, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

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PARIS (Reuters) - France's economy slowed for the first time since early 2013 in the second quarter of 2016, hurt by a dip in consumer spending, in a blow to President Francois Hollande ahead of a presidential election due next April.

In its third estimate for the period, the INSEE national statistics agency revised lower its second quarter growth reading to -0.1 percent after earlier predictions of flat growth.

The contraction in the euro zone's No. 2 economy came after robust growth of 0.7 percent in the January to March period. Consumer spending, the driver of France's economy, declined 0.1 percent on the previous quarter. Inventories fell sharply, INSEE said, shaving 0.7 points off.

The weak household demand and investment undermines the assertions made in recent months by Hollande, who has hinted strongly that he will run for re-election, that the economy is getting stronger.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin this week stuck to his projection of 1.5 percent growth for this year and next.

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Gareth Jones)

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