PARIS - French consumer confidence held steady in September as improved sentiment among households about their long-term finances offset unemployment concerns, a survey from the INSEE statistics agency showed on Tuesday.

INSEE's consumer confidence index held at 95, after a single point upwards revision for the month of August, beating the average forecast of 94 in a Reuters poll.

Household confidence about personal finances edged higher, rising above the long-term average for the first time since February, when the coronavirus epidemic first began sweeping across France.

There was also a slight increase in those prepared to make big purchases. However, the number of people who said it was a good time to save jumped higher for a fifth straight month.

Household concerns about unemployment inched higher. France has avoided a major spike in permanent unemployment as companies put workers on state-subsidised furloughs en masse.

The government wants to convince consumers to spend a 10 billion euro mountain of additional savings built up during the coronavirus crisis to help fuel a recovery after France's worst post-war recession in the first half of the year.

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Andrew Heavens) ((Email:; Tel: +33 1 49 49 52 42;))