* Consumer morale at highest level since August 2011
* Shoppers' confidence still below long-term average
BRUSSELS, July 23 Euro zone consumer morale hit
a nearly two-year high in July - still below the long-term
average but chiming with expectations of a recovery in the
second half of 2013.
Consumer confidence in the 17 countries using the euro
improved to -17.4 points in July from -18.8 points in June,
beating market expectations for a rise to -18.30 points, the
European Commission said on Tuesday.
The reading was the best since August 2011, when it stood at
In the whole of the European Union, consumer confidence
recovered even faster to -14.8 from -17.5 in June.
Improving consumer confidence follows on from better
manufacturing data this week and points to a recovery in the
second half of this year to pull the euro zone out of its
longest recession since creation of the currency in 1999.
Consumer optimism about the economy is still below the
long-term average in the EU, however, and households will still
struggle to support the expected recovery.
"Euro zone consumers continue to face high and rising
unemployment, generally muted wage growth and tight fiscal
policy," said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS
Consumer confidence rose around the world in the second
quarter on more optimistic jobs trends, personal finances and
spending intentions in the United States, China and Japan.
However, Portugal was still had the most pessimistic consumers.
"The main good news for euro zone consumers is that the
squeeze on their purchasing power is being limited by generally
moderate consumer price inflation," Archer added.
Inflation in the 17-nation euro zone was 1.6 percent in
June, below the European Central Bank's target of just under 2
percent. Economists expect inflation to remain below the target
for the rest of this year.