The French advertising group Publicis said Thursday that 2012 first-quarter sales jumped by 12.9 percent from the same period a year earlier, with its digital business now leading all others. The group said its sales climbed to 1.45 billion euros ($1.9 billion), from 1.29 billion in the first quarter of 2011, while forecasting a second quarter slowdown but a stronger second half of 2012. \"We remain confident about this year despite macroeconomic uncertainties that beg caution,\" chairman and chief executive Maurice Levy said during a conference call with journalists. \"We believe that growth will slow in the second quarter but that the second half of the year will overall be stronger than the first half-year,\" he added, owing notably to the Summer Olympics and European football championship. The Publicis boss said its digital activities continued to advance, and if calculated apart from all others they now represented a third of total sales, compared with 28 percent a year ago. \"The group\'s biggest segment has thus become digital,\" Levy said. It was followed by advertising, at 31 percent of all sales, marketing and media. A geographical breakdown showed modest sales growth of 3.6 percent in Europe and 3.3 percent in North America, where Publicis posted advances of more than eight percent in the year-earlier period. The BRIC region of Brazil, Russia, India and China turned in an increase of 10 percent meanwhile, while its \'MISSAT\' counterpart (Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore, South Africa and Turkey) posted a gain of 11.8 percent, Levy said.