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French Consumer Confidence Extends Slide to Record Low in March

By James Hertling

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Consumer confidence in France fell to a record low in March as accelerating inflation squeezes purchasing power.

A gauge of consumer sentiment fell to minus 36, the lowest since the index was introduced in 1987, from minus 35 in February, Insee, the Paris-based national statistics office, said today. Economists expected a reading of minus 35, according to the median of 25 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said this week the government is cutting its 2008 economic forecast to as low as 1.7 percent, citing the fallout from the U.S. housing recession. Accelerating inflation has deepened concern President Nicolas Sarkozy he will fail to fulfil his pledge to boost living standards, opinion polls have shown.

More than 80 percent of French people said they saw their purchasing power decline in the last 12 months, according to a poll last month by Paris-based Ifop institute. That was up from 65 percent in November and from 59 percent in January 2007.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Hertling in Paris at [email protected].
Last Updated: March 28, 2008 03:44 EDT

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