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French consumer confidence at highest in five years

[PARIS] French consumer confidence rose for the third consecutive month in April to reach its highest in over five years, data showed on Tuesday, although nagging concerns about unemployment meant it was still below the long-term average.

The index released by the official INSEE statistics agency came a day after unemployment figures showing the number out of work rose a further 15,400 to just over 3.5 million, making for a jobless rate rooted around 10 per cent.

The consumer morale reading ticked up to 94 this month from 93 in March, its highest reading since January 2010 and in line with expectations of economists polled by Reuters.

Households who took part in the survey said they were more willing to make significant purchases and were slightly more upbeat about both the state of their future finances and their ability to save.

However there was a sharp increase in concerns unemployment would continue to rise in the survey, which took place between March 30 and April 18.

The index, which is not closely correlated to consumer spending trends, hit an all-time low in May and June 2013 of 79. The highest level since the survey was conducted on a monthly basis was 125 in January 2001.

President Francois Hollande has said he will not seek a new term in 2017 unless unemployment is tangibly falling by then.

Earlier, Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer suggested that growth, which the government expects to hit one percent this year, could rise above 1.5 per cent next year and so start to create employment if supported by economic reforms.