Strasbourg, 30 October 2014
October 2014: Economic Sentiment picks up in both the euro area and the EU
In October, after four months of stagnation or decline, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) picked up in both the euro area (by 0.8 points to 100.7) and the EU (by 0.5 points to 104.0). The euro-area indicator thereby went back to just above its long-term average of 100.
Economic sentiment indicator (s.a.)
September EU: 104.0 – Euro Area: 100.7
Euro area developments
The stabilisation of euro-area sentiment resulted from an improvement in confidence in all the business sectors. While rises were important in retail trade, services and, particularly, construction, industry booked only a small increase, and confidence among consumers remained broadly stable. Amongst the largest euro-area economies, the ESI decreased only in Spain (-0.7), while it rose in Germany (+0.6), France (+1.1), Italy (+0.5) and the Netherlands (+2.1).
Increasing industry confidence (+0.4) resulted from managers' more optimistic views on expected production and the current level of overall order books, while their assessment of stocks of finished products remained broadly stable. Of the questions not included in the confidence indicator, the assessment of past production remained stable, while views on export order books improved. The marked improvement in services confidence (+1.2) was driven by managers' significantly brighter views on past demand, demand expectations, and, to a lesser degree, the past business situation. Consumer confidence remained broadly stable (+0.3) resulting from more positive assessments of the future general economic situation and future unemployment, while consumers' expectations of their financial situation and future savings remained broadly unchanged. The positive development in retail trade confidence (+0.9) reflected more positive views on the expected business situation and on the adequacy of the volume of stocks, while managers' assessment of the present business situation remained broadly unchanged. The marked rise in construction confidence (+3.1) was fuelled by upward revisions in both managers' employment expectations and their assessment of the level of order books. By contrast, the important deterioration (-4.3) in financial services confidence (not included in the ESI) was due to less positive appraisals of all three components (past business situation, past demand and demand expectations).
Employment plans saw a significant upward revision in construction and a smaller increase in services, while employment plans remained broadly unchanged in retail trade and worsened in the industry sector. Selling price expectations increased in industry and services, while they remained broadly stable in construction and decreased only in the retail trade sector. Also consumer price expectations picked up in October.
The slighter increase of the headline indicator for the EU (+0.5) was mainly due to the deterioration in the largest non-euro area EU economy, the UK (-2.1). However, the ESI increased markedly in Poland (+2.9). While industry, services and construction confidence improved in line with the euro area, EU retail trade confidence dropped. By contrast, EU consumer confidence increased, defying the broadly flat euro-area development. Finally, confidence in financial services fell in line with the euro area.
Employment expectations differed from the euro-area results only in the retail trade sector, with EU managers reporting a downward revision. Also price expectations were in line with those for the euro area except for the retail trade sector, where managers expected prices to increase, and consumers that expected broadly stable price developments.
Quarterly survey results (conducted in October)
In the euro area manufacturing sector, the estimated rate of capacity utilisation remained broadly stable at 80.0% (0.1 point higher than in July). At the same time, the share of managers assessing their current production capacity as 'more than sufficient' (in view of current order books and demand expectations) increased slightly and managers' export volume expectations were marginally revised downwards. However, managers' assessment of their competitive position on foreign markets outside the EU over the past three months improved compared with the previous survey carried out in July (by 1.1 points). Even if managers' appraisal of new orders worsened slightly (-0.6 points), the estimated number of months' production assured by orders on hand edged up by 0.2 months. Developments in the wider EU were broadly in line, with the rate of capacity utilisation remaining unchanged at 80.2.
In both the EU and the euro area, capacity utilisation in services has been on an upward trend since the beginning of 2013 (see Graph 11). In October 2014, the indicator increased in both the euro area (by 0.5 points to 87.8%) and the EU (by 0.7 points to 88.4%).
Industrial confidence indicator (s.a.)
September EU: -3.7 – Euro Area: -5.1
Service confidence indicator (s.a.)
September EU: 8.1 – Euro Area: 4.4
Consumer confidence indicator (s.a.)
September EU: -7.4 – Euro Area: -11.1
Retail trade confidence indicator (s.a.)
September EU: -2.5 – Euro Area: -6.4
Construction confidence indicator (s.a.)
September EU: -20.4 – Euro Area: -24.6
Financial services confidence indicator (n.s.a.)
September EU: 13.4 – Euro Area: 8.4
The next Business and Consumer Survey is due to be published on 27 November 2014.
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