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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 8 January 2013

December 2012: Economic sentiment improves in the euro area and remains broadly stable in the EU

In December the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) improved by 1.3 points in the euro area, to 87.0 and remained broadly unchanged (+0.3 points) at 88.4 in the EU. Economic sentiment in the euro area improved among consumers and across all sectors, except retail trade. In the EU, economic sentiment registered increases in industry and construction, which were partly offset by decreases in services and retail trade. EU consumer confidence remained broadly unchanged.

Amongst the seven largest Member States, economic sentiment improved in Italy (+2.0), Germany (+1.0) and France (+0.4) and remained broadly stable in Spain (+0.3), the Netherlands (+0.2) and Poland (-0.2). Only the UK saw sentiment clearly declining (-3.5).

Economic sentiment indicator (s.a.)

December EU: 88.4 - Euro Area: 87.

Industry confidence increased for the second month in both the EU (+1.4) and the euro area (+0.6), fuelled by a much more positive assessment of production expectations and, to a lesser extent, the current level of overall order books. Managers' assessment of stocks of finished products improved in the EU and remained broadly stable in the euro area. Also companies' past production and current level of export order books, which are not included in the confidence indicator, were assessed more favourably. Services confidence improved in the euro area (+2.1) but declined in the EU (-2.3). This difference is due to a massive drop in the UK results, which more than offset the marked increase registered last month. The impact is also observable at component level, with managers' assessment of the past business situation, views on past demand and demand expectations improving in the euro area but deteriorating in the EU. Confidence in retail trade decreased by around 1 point in both the EU and the euro area. In both areas, managers' assessment of the present business situation worsened while the assessment of the current volume of stocks improved. Managers' business expectations worsened in the EU while staying stable in the euro area. Confidence in construction improved by close to 1 point in both the EU and the euro area. While construction managers' assessment of their order books improved, employment expectations registered a mild deterioration.

Contrary to construction managers, industry managers revised employment plans upwards. In services and retail trade, no changes are envisaged on the euro-area level, while in the EU as a whole, managers revised their employment plans downwards. EU selling price expectations increased in industry and construction, while decreasing in retail trade and remaining stable in services. In the euro area, selling prices are expected to increase in all sectors, except for construction.

Consumer confidence remained broadly stable in the EU (-0.3) and pointed slightly upwards in the euro area (+0.4). Consumers in both areas were more positive about the future financial situation of their households and their savings expectations over the next 12 months remained stable (EU) or improved slightly (euro area). At the same time, consumers' assessment of the future general economic situation was more pessimistic (EU) or unchanged (euro area) and unemployment expectations worsened in both areas.

Financial services confidence, which is not included in the ESI, rose in both the EU (+6.4) and the euro area (+3.9). In the EU, managers' assessment of past business situation, past demand and demand expectations improved. In the euro area, the latter component worsened.

Industrial confidence indicator (s.a.)

December EU: -12.7 - Euro Area: -14.4

Service confidence indicator (s.a.)

December EU: -11.2 - Euro Area: -9.8

Consumer confidence indicator (s.a.)

December EU: -24.1 - Euro Area: -26.5

Retail trade confidence indicator (s.a.)

December EU: -10.3 - Euro Area: -15.8

Construction confidence indicator (s.a.)

December EU: -34.9 - Euro Area: -34.7

Financial services confidence indicator (n.s.a.)

December EU: 3.5 - Euro Area: -5.8

The next Business and Consumer Survey is due to be published on 30 January 2013.

Full tables are available on:

Scheduled publication dates

Flash estimate

Final release EU, euro area and Member States

January 2013

23 January 2013

30 January 2013

February 2013

20 February 2013

27 February 2013

March 2013

20 March 2013

27 March 2013

Contacts :

Simon O'Connor (+32 2 296 73 59)

Audrey Augier (+32 2 297 16 07)

Vandna Kalia (+32 2 299 58 24)

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