Euro-Area Consumer Confidence Rises as ECB Weighs More Stimulus

Consumer confidence within the euro-area economy improved more than predicted in November, with sentiment benefiting from the prospect of further European Central Bank stimulus to combat anemic inflation.

An index of consumer confidence climbed to minus 6 this month, following a revised reading of minus 7.6 in October, the European Commission said on Friday. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had forecast a reading of minus 7.5, according to the median estimate.

The 19-nation euro area’s recovery, which ECB officials have termed “fragile,” is contending with a slowdown in China and other emerging markets and the prospect of an interest-rate increase in the U.S. that could damp demand. Last week’s terror attacks in Paris heighten political tension and add to the uncertainty. Shares in Accor SA, Europe’s biggest hotel operator, fell in the wake of the disaster on concern tourism will be hurt.

ECB officials are particularly concerned the rate of inflation in the bloc is slipping further from their target, depressed by a high degree of slack in the economy and slumping oil prices.

In a speech earlier on Friday, ECB President Mario Draghi said policy makers will do what’s necessary to ensure that inflation returns rapidly toward the goal of just under 2 percent.

“If we decide that the current trajectory of our policy is not sufficient to achieve that objective, we will do what we must to raise inflation as quickly as possible,” Draghi said in Frankfurt.

Policy makers are weighing whether an expansion to the 1.1 trillion-euro ($1.2 trillion) quantitative-easing program started in March, or other measures such as taking the deposit rate further below zero, are needed.

“Only a tiny fraction of the underlying consumer interviews were carried out after the
Paris terror attacks,” the European Commission said. On Nov. 13 at least 129 people were killed in a series of shootings and explosions in the French capital.

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