FILE PHOTO: A shopper pays with a euro bank note in a market in Nice, France, April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

March 29, 2022

PARIS (Reuters) – French consumer confidence fell in March to its lowest point in a little more than a year as inflation fears surged to their highest level ever, a monthly survey showed on Tuesday.

The INSEE official stats agency said its consumer confidence index fell to 91 points from 97 in February, plunging steeply in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The result, the lowest since February 2021, fell short of economists’ forecasts for 94 points on average in a Reuters poll and flew in the face of a improving trend observed ahead of previous presidential elections. France has a presidential election next month.

The share of households expecting inflation to increase over the coming year jumped 50 points to the highest level since the survey began in 1972, INSEE said.

With the election looming next month, the government has budgeted more than 25 billion euros ($27 billion) in measures to cap gas and power prices, make inflation offsetting handouts to low-income households and offer a rebate on fuel prices.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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