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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 11:24 GMT
French consumer spending rising
Galleries Lafayette
French buyers are stocking up on household equipment
French consumers increased their spending by 1.5% in January, a figure which bodes well for the country's economic growth, figures revealed.

The National Statistic Institute (INSEE) added that consumer spending in January rose 3.8% on a year-on-year basis.

Rising sales of household equipment were behind the increase.

The INSEE also said that French consumer prices fell 0.6% in January, but were up 1.6% on an annual basis.

Fewer car sales

Despite the general increase in spending in January, French households bought fewer cars in January.

According to the INSEE, car sales fell 2.8% in January, following a fall of 0.6% in December. But on a year-on-year basis, the sector still saw a sales increase of 6.5%.

Consumer spending fuelled France's economic growth in the last quarter of 2004 and analysts expect that it will continue to support the economy.

"It's a growth that will remain fragile and vulnerable to risks like a strong rise in long-term interest rates, tension in the oil price," Emmanuel Ferry, from Exane BNP Paribas told Reuters news agency.

Italian confidence

Italian consumer
Italians consumers are more confident
Meanwhile in Italy, consumer confidence rose to its highest level since October 2004.

Economic research group ISAE has said that Italian consumer confidence rose to 104.4 from 103.3, despite a slight deterioration in short-term sentiment.

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