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Economy in Brief

French Consumer Confidence Up Slightly  in April
by Louise Curley May 4, 2004

The monthly household survey conducted by the Instiute National de la Statistique et Etudes Economic (INSEE) showed a slight improvement in French consumer confidence in April, with the overall balance of opinion rising from a minus 22 to a minus 20.

The survey, however, gives little encouragement that consumer spending is about to provide stronger support to the economy. In spite of a sharp drop in those expecting an increase in unemployment and improved outlooks for their personal finances and living standards, consumers indicated that they were less likely to make major purchases in April than they were in March.

In its press release INSEE announced a change in methodology, effective January 2004, to harmonize its measure with other European economic surveys. The release provided only six months of data that used the new methodology. These data are shown in the following table and in the attached chart, they data have been linked to data based on the old methodology.

INSEE Household Survey
 (% balance)
Apr 04 Mar 04 Feb 04 Jan 04 Dec 03 Nov 03 M/M % chg
Summary Indicator -20 -22 -23 -22 -25 -24 2
Personal Financial Situation Outlook 4 1 0 -2 -5 -3 3
Living Standard Outlook -22 -28 -26 -27 -32 -23 6
Unemployment 39 50 50 38 52 48  -11
Likelihood of Major Purchases -12 -10 -15 -10 -18 -19  -2
Prices Outlook -45 -44 -39 -38 -38   -39 -1
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