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Financial News: Eurozone Economic Sentiment Falls Slightly In March

Eurozone Economic Sentiment Falls Slightly In March

03/30/2017 - 07:17:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Eurozone economic confidence weakened marginally in March as the improvements in sentiment among consumers and builders were offset by declines in industrial and services sectors.

The economic sentiment index fell slightly to 107.9 in March from 108.0 in February, survey results from the European Commission showed Thursday.

The score was forecast to rise to 108.3. Although the reading dropped unexpectedly, it remained close to the highest level since March 2011.

The ESI still looks consistent with a sharp acceleration in euro-zone GDP growth to about 2.5 percent from the fourth quarter's 1.7 percent, Stephen Brown, a European economist at Capital Economics, said.

A stronger euro, uncertainty about the Brexit negotiations and important elections in France may cause Eurozone euphoria to be dampened somewhat, Bert Colijn, a senior economist at ING, said.

Still, with job growth expected to continue at a fast pace by Eurozone standards, domestic demand will likely underpin continued robust growth in the zone for the Spring months, the economist added.

The industrial confidence index dropped marginally to 1.2 from 1.3. Economists had forecast the reading to improve to 1.4.

Broadly flat industrial sentiment was caused by practically unchanged assessments of all questions entering the indicator, namely, in respect of the current level of overall order books, the stocks of finished products and the production expectation.

The services confidence indicator declined to 12.7 in March from 13.9 a month ago. Weaker services confidence reflected managers' more cautious views on past demand, the past business situation, as well as demand expectations.

Meanwhile, the consumer sentiment index improved to -5, in line with flash estimate, from -6.2 in February. Consumer confidence firmed on the back of more positive appraisals of the future general economic situation, future unemployment and increased savings expectations.

At the same time, the retail trade confidence index held steady at 1.8 in March. A stable level of retail trade confidence reflected managers' more upbeat assessments of the adequacy of the volume of stocks being fully offset by grimmer appraisals of the present and, in particular, the expected business situation.

The construction confidence index came in at -9.9 versus -10.1 in the previous month. Construction confidence moved broadly sideways, as managers were more upbeat on the level of order books, but scaled their employment expectations down.

Another survey from the EU showed that the business confidence index remained unchanged at 0.82 in March, the highest reading since June 2011.

Managers' views on all components feeding into the BCI, namely the level of overall and export order books, past and expected production, as well as the stocks of finished products, remained virtually unchanged in March.

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