European investor confidence surged to the highest level in more than 1 1/2 years, adding to signs that the economy is beginning to emerge from recession, the Sentix research institute said today.
An index measuring sentiment in the euro-area economy advanced to minus 3.9 from minus 7 in January, the Limburg, Germany-based institute said in an e-mailed statement. That’s the highest level since July 2011. Economists had forecast a gain to minus 1.7, according to the median of 16 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. A gauge of economic expectations climbed to 15.8 from 12, while a measure of current conditions rose to minus 21.8 from minus 24.3, Sentix said.
The 17-nation euro region succumbed to recession in the third quarter last year, pushing unemployment to a record 11.7 percent. Since then, economic confidence has improved and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said last month he expects a gradual recovery later this year.
“The euro-area economy is about to begin to grow again,” said Sebastian Wanke, an economist at Sentix. “Investors have taken a while to recognize that things took a sustained turn for the better last summer.”
Financial markets have rallied since July, when Draghi pledged to do whatever it takes to safeguard the euro. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose for an eighth month in January, its longest winning streak since 1997, and bond yields of debt-strapped countries eased.