BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Consumer morale in the euro zone improved to a two-year high in September, the European Commission said on Friday, with confidence in the wider European Union surpassing its long-term average for the first time since the summer of 2011.

Consumer confidence in the 17 countries using the euro rose to -14.9 points in September from -15.6 points in August, coming slightly below market expectations for a rise to -14.5 points.

The reading was the best since August 2011, when it stood at -16.5.

In the whole of the European Union, consumer confidence recovered even more strongly to -11.7 from -12.8 in August.

The euro zone pulled out of recession in the second quarter on stronger German and French growth.

The recovery remains fragile however, 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.

Italy cut its growth forecasts on Friday and will likely need more austerity measures to cut its budget deficit to below the European Union's 3 percent threshold as promised this year.

(Reporting by Martin Santa; editing by Robin Emmott)

 

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