French consumers look up, official data shows
French consumers looked slightly more on the bright side of the economy in May, official data showed on Thursday the day after an improvement in unemployment.
But consumer confidence is still way below the long-term average, data from the national statistics office INSEE showed.
The household confidence index, which stood at 83 points in March and April, edged up to 84 points. The long-term average is 100 points.
One particularly sensitive component of the index, concerning expectations for the trend of unemployment, showed a marked improvement, with a fall of eight points for a total decline of 18 points since February. This measure was now in line with the long-term average INSEE said.
On Wednesday the labour ministry reported that unemployment had eased in April for the fourth month running.
The number of people seeking work had fallen by 0.4 percent or 10,900 people from the level in March to 2.669 million.
Economy and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said that the economic data for France were beginning to point to a lasting positive trend.
"It's not a mystery, growth is rising, activity is picking up, employment as well and unemployment is falling," she told France 2 television on Wednesday.
The signs suggested that France was emerging from the economic crisis, she said, pointing to an upward revision by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development of its growth outlook for France this year to 2.2 percent.
The government is counting on growth of 2.0 percent this year.
© 2011 AFP