French business, consumer confidence rebounds in May

PARIS, May 26 (Reuters) - French business and consumer confidence rebounded in May as a third national lockdown was lifted, hitting levels not seen since the country’s coronavirus epidemic broke out last year, surveys showed on Wednesday.

The INSEE official statistics agency said its monthly business climate index jumped to 108 from 96 in April, its highest since April 2018.

Confidence rebounded across all sectors from services to retail trade and industry as non-essential stores and restaurants were allowed to reopen on May 19 for the first time since early April.

Meanwhile, INSEE’s consumer sentiment index rose to 97 points from 95 in April, its highest since March 2020 when the French outbreak was in its initial stages. The reading was in line with a Reuters’ poll of economists’ expectations.

Households’ pessimism about the economic outlook and concerns about unemployment were at their the lowest since the crisis started, the survey found.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by John Stonestreet