June 14, 2018 / 7:37 PM / 9 months ago

French central bank trims 2018 growth forecast to 1.8 percent

Facade of the Bank of France "Banque de France" headquarters in Paris, France, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French economic growth will slow slightly more than expected this year after a soft start to the year and as higher oil prices weigh on activity, the central bank forecast on Thursday.

The French economy was seen growing 1.8 percent this year instead of the 1.9 percent previously forecast in March and down from 2.3 percent registered last year.

Growth was expected to ease as corporate and household investment returned toward more normal levels after a particularly strong surge last year, the Bank of France said.

The central bank said that higher oil prices would weigh on the outlook though the impact would in part be offset by slightly firmer global demand.

The Bank of France raised its inflation forecast to 2.0 percent this year from 1.6 percent previously due to higher energy prices, which it said would also weigh on household spending.

Looking out past this year, the central bank forecast growth of 1.7 percent next year and 1.6 percent in 2020, leaving its estimates unchanged.

Meanwhile, inflation was seen falling back next year to 1.5 percent next before rising to 1.8 percent in 2020.

The economy was seen steadily adding close to 200,000 jobs annually, driving the unemployment rate from 9.2 percent at the start of this year to 8.2 percent by the end of 2020, the lowest level since 2008.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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