BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Consumer morale in the euro zone improved at a slightly slower rate than expected in October, the European Commission said on Wednesday, but still by enough to add to hopes of a sustained recovery in the currency area.
Consumer confidence in the 17 countries using the euro rose to -14.5 points in October from -14.9 points in September, coming slightly below market expectations for a rise to -14.4 points.
The reading was the best since July 2011, when it stood at -11.2.
In the wider European Union, confidence was unchanged at -11.7 in October, after surpassing its long-term average for the first time since the summer of 2011 in the previous month.
The euro zone pulled out of recession in the second quarter on stronger German and French growth with a modest 0.3 percent growth quarter on quarter. Growth is also expected in the third quarter.
The recovery, however, remains fragile, as countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain continue to struggle with the impact of the downturn and the fallout from the bloc's debt crisis.
Reporting by Martin Santa; editing by Robin Emmott