French consumer morale hits lowest in nearly two years in June

Tourists look at Eiffel Tower keychains displayed in a souvenir shop in Paris, France August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

PARIS (Reuters) - French consumers were at their least upbeat in nearly two years this month as concerns over inflation and personal finances weighed, data showed, adding to signs of slowing momentum in the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.

The INSEE statistics agency's measure of consumer confidence for June came in at 97 points, down from 99 points in May and missing a forecast of 100 in a Reuters poll of 19 economists. FRCONC=ECI

The June figure was the lowest since August 2016, INSEE said.

The French economy is showing signs of stalling after a pick-up that followed President Emmanuel Macron’s election in May last year.

This month, INSEE forecast slower growth for this year, citing a stronger euro, higher oil prices and trade concerns, with U.S. president Donald Trump having announced tariffs against European and Chinese products.

“With the rhetoric from Donald Trump causing countries around the world to retaliate, it’s hardly surprising that both consumers and CEOs are reading the headlines and thinking that ‘our next spend could wait a bit while we see what comes next’,” said Lorne Baring, chief investment officer at fund management firm B Capital SA.

Analysts at HSBC said they expected a growth slowdown, although reforms introduced by Macron should show positive results eventually.

“Based on recent improvements on the labour market, we still expect that government reforms aimed at bolstering job creation and corporate profitability may bear fruit and thus strengthen consumer spending, and economic momentum more generally,” they wrote.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Mathieu Rosemain and John Stonestreet