PARIS (Reuters) - French consumer confidence weakened unexpectedly in February as tentative signs of recovery in the euro zone's second-biggest economy left households unconvinced in the face of record jobless numbers.
The INSEE statistics agency said its consumer confidence index fell to 85 from 86 the month before, moving further away from its long-term average of 100. Economists polled by Reuters had expected on average a stable reading of 86.
Low household confidence is bad news for France's nascent economic recovery because consumer spending is the traditional motor of growth, which rebounded at the end of last year.
The Socialist government of President Francois Hollande is counting on momentum picking up over the course of this year to reduce unemployment.
Yet INSEE said the number of households concerned about unemployment rose again in February as were those that worried about their future standard of living.
In the latest sign of labour market weakness, the number of people registered as out of work rose by 8,900 in January to a new record, Labour Ministry figures showed on Wednesday.
On the plus side, INSEE said households saw inflation pressures easing - a sign of slack in the economy but which is nonetheless good for their purchasing power.
A Viavoce poll published on Thursday suggested that French people were growing less concerned about their purchasing power, although 53 percent of those surveyed expected it to fall further in the months ahead.
Economists expect January consumer spending data due on Friday to show that consumer spending rose 0.2 percent in January after easing slightly in December.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Mark John)