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French industry morale edges lower in April, euro weighs

By Sudip Kar-Gupta

PARIS (Reuters) - French industrial morale dipped in April, reflecting concerns elsewhere in the euro zone that growth in the bloc is weakening as the impact of a stronger currency starts to bite.

Data from the INSEE national statistics body on Tuesday showed that industrial morale in France, the euro zone's second-biggest economy, fell to 109 points in April, down from a revised figure of 110 points for March.

A Reuters poll of 18 economists had given an average forecast of 110 points.

"There's definitely a slowdown, and the euro is not helping. The European Central Bank is stuck in a corner. If they look to normalise rates, the euro will just shoot up and they're finding it hard to successfully talk down the euro," said Ion-Marc Valahu, fund manager at Geneva-based firm Clairinvest.

The French survey echoed a similar finding in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, with data on Tuesday also showing that German business confidence had deteriorated for a fifth consecutive month in April.

French industrial morale has edged lower after hitting a 17-year high in January.

Economic and business morale have hit multi-year highs since President Emmanuel Macron's election last year, but analysts warn that a strong euro (EUR=) is making it harder for European firms to sell their goods overseas.

French tyre maker Michelin (MICP.PA) said this week that the strong euro had contributed to a decline in its revenues during the first quarter of this year. Its shares fell by more than 1 percent on Tuesday.

For details from INSEE: https://www.insee.fr/en/statistiques?debut=0&collection=5

For a graphic: http://reut.rs/2DErm7G

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Lough and Peter Graff)