French consumer morale stabilises in November

PARIS Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:14am EST

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PARIS Nov 27 (Reuters) - French consumer confidence stabilised in November but remained well below its long-term average as households continued to fret about their finances amid rising unemployment and the threat of economic recession.

National statistics agency INSEE said its index of consumer morale was unchanged in November at 84, beating a Reuters forecast for a reading of 83 and marking the first stabilisation in the index since June.

Household confidence had been declining steadily amid an acceleration in jobless claims, now at a 13-year high, since Socialist President Francois Hollande came to power in May.

Concern over personal finances rose in November versus October, however, and more respondents said now was a good time to save, reflecting ongoing uncertainty about the economic climate that could weigh on spending in the months ahead.

The French economy registered a surprise 0.2 percent expansion in the third quarter, confounding expectations that it would contract after nearly a year of stagnant output.

Hollande's announcement in early November of measures to bolster industrial competitiveness, including 20 billion euros ($25.93 billion) in annual tax rebates for companies, has helped to lift spirits in the business sector and raised hopes among the public that some jobs could be preserved.

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