PARIS - French consumer confidence fell unexpectedly in July to its lowest level since February in the face of growing fears about unemployment as a slew of companies unveil plans for major layoffs, a survey showed on Friday.
The INSEE official statistics office said that its consumer confidence index fell to 87 in July from 89 a month earlier. The June figure was also revised down from 90 originally.
The reading, well below the long-term average of 100, fell short of expectations in a Reuters poll of 16 economists which had indicated an average forecast of 90.
The survey showed that a rash of headlines about factory closures and surging unemployment were taking their toll on consumer morale with the proportion of households reporting it to be a concern at the highest level since June 2010.
The number of households expecting their personal finances to get tighter in the months ahead worsened while the number expecting their economic situation to get tougher rose the most since November 2007.