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Euro-Area Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Declines in February

Euro-area consumer confidence unexpectedly declined in February, adding to signs that the currency bloc’s recovery may be cooling.

An index of household confidence in the euro area fell to minus 12.7 from minus 11.7 in January, the European Commission in Brussels said in a preliminary report today. That falls short of the median forecast of minus 11 in a Bloomberg News survey of 25 economists.

While the euro-area economy is forecast to post full-year growth in 2014 for the first time in three years, the recovery remains at risk because of near-record unemployment and subdued price pressures. European Central Bank officials are debating whether they should ease policy further because inflation is less than half the 2 percent the ECB defines as price stability.

A factory gauge for the euro zone unexpectedly slipped to 53 from 54 in January, while the services measure rose less than estimated to 51.7 from 51.6, Markit Economics said today. The economy will expand 0.3 percent in the first quarter after a similar gain in the previous three months, according to a separate Bloomberg survey.

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