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French consumer spending rebounds

PARIS, July 22 – Consumer spending in recession-hit France rebounded in recent months, driven by a revival in car buying, official statistics showed on Wednesday.

Seasonally-adjusted figures from the INSEE statistics institute showed household spending on manufactured products grew 1.4 percent in June after a dip in May, by 0.7 percent over the second quarter of 2009 and 0.2 percent in the first.

The second-quarter rise was driven "mainly by consumer spending on automobiles," it said.

Consumer spending, seen as a key driver of growth in Europe\’s third-biggest economy, was up by 1.2 percent over the past 12 months.

France\’s economy is expected to contract by three percent overall this year due to one of the harshest economic crises in decades.

Economy Minister Christine Lagarde hailed the figures as a better than expected. Speaking on French television ahead of their official publication she said that industrial production and the auto sector were looking up.

"In many industrial countries today, there is a slight upturn," she said.

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