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.
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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)