Euro-Area Consumer Sentiment Improves Less Than Forecast

Euro-area consumer confidence increased less than economists forecast in September, as the 17-nation currency bloc struggled to overcome the legacy of a debt crisis now in its fourth year.

An index of household confidence in the euro zone improved to minus 14.9, the highest level since July 2011, from minus 15.6 a month earlier, the European Commission in Brussels said in a preliminary report today. Economists had forecast an increase to minus 14.5, according to the median of 23 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

The euro-area economy emerged from a record-long recession in the second quarter amid the first sustained period of financial-market calm since the start of the debt crisis. Yet the bloc’s recovery remains fragile, with record unemployment and declining industrial production.

“What’s encouraging is that more positive news is coming from most economies, suggesting that the diverging trends between the euro zone’s core and the periphery could eventually start to diminish,” Jean-Michel Six, chief European economist at Standard & Poor’s, said in note on Sept. 18.

The European Central Bank on Sept. 5 kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent. ECB President Mario Draghi has said that the Frankfurt-based central bank will keep interest rates at the present level or lower for an “extended period” based on a “subdued” inflation outlook.

German Carrier

The economic upswing has boosted companies including Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which ordered 59 wide-body aircraft from Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS as the German carrier phases out aging long-distance planes. The purchase, Lufthansa’s biggest to date, is for 34 Boeing 777-9X models and 25 Airbus A350-900s, the airline said on Sept. 19.

In the Netherlands, PostNL NV’s underlying cash operating income for 2013 is forecast to be higher than the previously stated range of 50 million euros to 90 million euros because of a stamp increase and cost cuts, the company said on Sept. 19.