PARIS (Reuters) - French manufacturing companies are raising their investment expectations for this year, a survey showed on Thursday, in good news for the government as it struggles to engineer an economic recovery.
Managers in manufacturing firms aim to increase their investment by three percent this year after an estimated decrease of seven percent last year, a survey by the INSEE statistics institute found.
The last time the survey was conducted, in October, managers had expected to reduce investment by 2 percent in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for about a quarter of total private sector investment.
With a recovery in France lagging much of the euro zone, President Francois Hollande announced a shift towards supply-side policies last month, hoping to boost flagging business confidence.
He offered to phase out 30 billion euros ($40.6 billion) in charges that companies pay annually to finance family benefits in exchange for a commitment from firms to meet targets for hiring and investing in France.
His government is counting on a rebound in corporate investment this year, which it expects will allow overall economic growth of at least 0.9 percent.
The business newspaper Les Echos reported that Hollande wanted to move quickly with his tax break scheme and public spending cuts to finance it. It said he wanted the main points hammered out shortly after municipal elections in March.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Kevin Liffey)