The French economy is expected to grow by 0.2% in the first quarter, the country's central bank said today, confirming a preliminary forecast issued a month ago. 

The bank makes its forecasts based on a monthly survey of a panel of private sector executives, who have reported that business confidence remained largely unchanged in February.

The central bank noted that industrial production was "steady" across almost all sectors in February. This was particularly so in the chemical, pharmaceutical as well as machines and equipments industries.

"Deliveries are intensifying" while "the order books are filling out somewhat", said the bank which also expects business activity to improve slightly in March.

In the services sector, a "slight rise in activity" is seen in March.

The euro zone's second biggest economy turned in slightly better than expected growth of 0.3% last year. However, it is struggling to bring down its jobless ranks, with 3.31 million unemployed on the register in January. 

French President Francois Hollande's government is also under pressure to cut public spending and raise revenues, with the European Commission last week placing the country under close surveillance over its failure to rein in its deficit.