May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Euro-area consumer confidence increased for a sixth consecutive month in May, adding to signs the euro area is starting to emerge from a record-long recession.
An index of household confidence in the 17-nation euro zone rose to minus 21.9 from minus 22.3 in April, the European Commission in Brussels said today. Economists had forecast an increase to minus 21.8, according to the median of 25 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.
The euro area’s 18-month recession will end in the second quarter, as the economy stagnates before returning to growth in the following three months, according to a separate Bloomberg survey of economists. The economy contracted 0.2 percent in the first quarter.
Today’s confidence data followed a May 16 trade report, which showed euro-area exports rose a seasonally adjusted 2.8 percent in March and the trade surplus widened to 18.7 billion euros ($24.1 billion). European Union car sales rose in April for the first time since September 2011.
Record unemployment of 12.1 percent and spending cuts across the euro area have eroded consumer spending power even as inflation has been below the ECB’s 2 percent ceiling since February. Retail sales fell 0.1 percent in March, the last month for which data are available.
EU car sales rose in April for the first time since September 2011, though the number registered was still the third-lowest for the month since the data series began in 1990, according to the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.
Adidas AG, the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based sporting goods-maker, said May 3 that first-quarter revenue in western Europe slid 6 percent on a currency-neutral basis, led by declines in Spain, Italy and the U.K.
The commission is scheduled to publish the final numbers for May consumer confidence and the wider indicator of euro-area economic confidence on May 30.
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