PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said on Friday the government’s targets for growth and deficit reduction were not being altered after data showed growth ground to a halt in the second quarter of 2011.
France’s banks were among the soundest in the world, he added, in response to a fresh bout of financial market jitters that hit French financial shares particularly hard this week.
He welcomed a ban announced overnight on short-selling of financial shares and said investors should expect strong measures from France and Germany to address governance of the euro zone economy in the weeks ahead, after a meeting of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel scheduled for next Tuesday.
The European market regulator ESMA said late on Thursday France, Italy, Spain and Belgium were banning short-selling of stocks from Friday after a renewed bout of rumor-driven share price plunges this week in financial markets unsettled by the region’s sovereign debt difficulties.
“I welcome this decision by the bourse watchdog to put short-selling on hold,” Baroin said in an interview on RTL radio.
Regarding efforts to bolster market confidence, Baroin said:
“Investors should be in no doubt as to the determination of the government to reduce our deficits and debt.”
Reporting by Brian Love and Nick Vinocur, editing by Mike Peacock