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Brussels, 29 March 2010
March 2010: Economic Sentiment Indicator regains momentum
In March, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) improved significantly, reaching 99.6 (+2.0 points) in the EU and 97.7 (+1.8) in the euro area. After the pause recorded in February, the upward trend appears to have regained its momentum. The ESI is now close to its long-term average, albeit it will still require further improvement for the economic activity to reach its pre-crisis level.
Economic sentiment indicator (s.a.)
EU: March 99.6 Euro area: March 97.7
The majority of the Member States reported a general improvement in sentiment. Among the largest Member States, Germany (+3.4 points) reported the most significant increase, followed by Poland (+2.7), the UK (+2.6) and the Netherlands (+2.4). The improvements were less marked in France (+1.4) and Spain (+1.4). Sentiment in Italy deteriorated moderately (-1.5). However, this overall improvement masks divergences across countries, with sentiment being broadly at its long-term average in some Member States (Poland, Germany, France, Italy), while others are lagging behind (the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Greece).
Sentiment in industry increased by 2 points in the EU and by 3 points in the euro area. This sharp rebound in confidence, picking up again after having levelled off in February, was the main driver of the overall improvement, with Germany contributing the most. Managers in industry were upbeat about their order books and production expectations, whereas the level of stocks was assessed with some caution.
Confidence in services improved by 1 point in the EU and remained unchanged in the euro area. The retail sector improved by 1 point in the EU and by 2 points in the euro area. Positive signals emerged also in construction, which increased by 2 points in the EU and by 3 points in the euro area.
In line with the flash estimate, confidence among consumers remained broadly unchanged in both the EU and the euro area. Across countries, views diverged on the general economic outlook and unemployment expectations, resulting in a generally cautious outlook for both EU and euro-area aggregates.
Confidence in financial services – which is not included in the ESI – improved by 1 point in the EU and declined by 2 points in the euro area. Confidence remains broadly at its pre-crisis level.
Industrial confidence indicator (s.a.)
EU: March -10
Euro area: March -10
Service confidence indicator (s.a.)
EU: March 1
Euro area: March 1
Consumer confidence indicator (s.a.)
EU: March -14
Euro area: March -17
Retail trade confidence indicator (s.a.)
EU: March -4
Euro area: March -6
Construction confidence indicator (s.a.)
EU: March -30
Euro area: March -25
Financial services confidence indicator (n.s.a.)
EU: March 17
Euro area: March 19
The next Business and Consumer Survey is due to be published on 29 April 2010.
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