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French FinMin sees negative growth in Q4 due to coronavirus resurgence

The French economy will have a negative growth in the final three months of the year as a resurgence of novel coronavirus infections weighs on business activities, Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

"In the fourth quarter we will likely have a negative growth figure...because the epidemic is starting again and that there is a lot of international uncertainty -- the U.S. election and Brexit," Le Maire told Europe 1 radio, without giving a growth estimate.

In its quarterly outlook issued early October, national statistics institute INSEE expected the eurozone's second largest power to report zero growth in the fourth quarter, down from a previous forecast of 1 percent.

France has reported a surge in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks with record high daily cases. On Thursday, further 41,661 people tested positive, a new record after Saturday's 32,427. The cumulative total infections now stand at 999,043.

The respiratory illness has claimed 34,210 deaths since the outbreak of the epidemic, with 162 fatalities reported on Thursday.

Amid worsening sanitary situation, the French government decided to extend curfew to 38 more regions. About 46 million of France's 67 million population are now requested to stay indoors from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for at least six weeks.

The new anti-coronavirus measure would cost France 2 billion euros (2.36 billion U.S. dollars), the minister said, pledging to continue "to protect companies and workers as long as the virus continues to circulate."

Last month, the government pledged to mobilize 100 billion euros to help economy to recover from the coronavirus crisis and bolster growth in the next two years.

France has already mobilized 460 billion euros to make companies stay afloat through the coronavirus outbreak. The fund consists in large part of tax and payroll charge deferrals, in addition to specific plans to rescue the sectors worst hit by the pandemic, such as tourism, auto and aviation industry.

Due to costly measures to cushion the impact of the health crisis on economic activities, the country's public deficit in 2020 will reach 10.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to official data. (1 euro = 1.184 U.S. dollar)

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