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Brussels, 27 September 2012
September 2012: Economic sentiment continues to decline in both the EU and the euro area
In September the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) decreased by 0.9 points in the EU, to 86.1, and by 1.1 points in the euro area, to 85.0. In both areas, the decrease was due mainly to weaker confidence among services and retail trade managers, and consumers. While confidence in industry decreased in the euro area as well, it remained broadly stable in the EU. On the positive side, construction managers in both areas were less pessimistic than in August. Among the largest Member States, sentiment worsened in Poland (-2.2), France (-1.6), the Netherlands (-1.2) and Germany (-1.1), while it improved in the United Kingdom (+0.4) and in Spain (+1.3). Sentiment remained broadly unchanged in Italy (-0.1).
Economic sentiment indicator (s.a.)
September EU: 86.1 - Euro Area: 85.0
The downward trend of confidence in industry came to a halt in the EU (+0.1) but continued in the euro area (-0.7). In both areas, managers' production expectations continued to deteriorate, although the decline was less significant in the EU. Their assessment of the current level of overall order books improved in the EU but worsened in the euro area. Managers' assessment of the adequacy of their stocks of finished products improved in the euro area and was stable in the EU. After a temporary improvement in August the assessment of past production deteriorated again in both areas. Managers' assessment of export order books deteriorated in the euro area and remained broadly stable in the EU. For the sixth consecutive month, confidence in services declined in both the EU and the euro area (both -1.2). This decline resulted from deteriorations in all the components of the indicator. Confidence in retail trade decreased again in the EU (-1.8) and the euro area (-1.4). The present and the expected business situation as well as developments in the current volume of stocks were clearly assessed as more negative. Confidence in the construction sector increased in the EU (+1.6) and the euro area (+1.2), attributable to a more positive assessment of employment expectations that outweighed more pessimistic views on order books.
In both areas, employment plans were revised downwards for industry, retail trade and - to a lesser extent – services. Selling price expectations were up in all sectors, in both the EU and the euro area.
Consumer confidence weakened by 1.3 points in both the EU and the euro area, driven by worsened expectations about the general economic situation, their households' financial situation and their savings. However, following the steep increase over the past three months, consumers' unemployment fears broadly stabilised.
Confidence in financial services, which is not included in the ESI, declined in the euro area (-1.0) but remained stable in the EU. A marked improvement in demand expectations in the EU balanced decreases in the two other components of the indicator (past business situation and past demand). Small improvements in the assessment of past and future demand in the euro area were not enough to outweigh the more marked decrease in the assessment of the past business situation.
Industrial confidence indicator (s.a.)
August EU: -14.5 - Euro Area: -16.1
Service confidence indicator (s.a.)
August EU: -12.6 - Euro Area: -12.0
Consumer confidence indicator (s.a.)
August EU: -24.0 - Euro Area: -25.9
Retail trade confidence indicator (s.a.)
August EU: -15.2 - Euro Area: -18.6
Construction confidence indicator (s.a.)
August EU: -33.0 - Euro Area: -31.9
Financial services confidence indicator (n.s.a.)
August EU: -7.4 - Euro Area: -11.1
The next Business and Consumer Survey is due to be published on 30 October 2012.
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