Euro-Area Economic Confidence Unexpectedly Slips in MarchBy
Sentiment declines to 107.9; economist estimate 108.3
Confidence index remains near highest level since 2011
Euro-area economic confidence unexpectedly slipped this month, an indication that the region’s recovery may not be as immune from political uncertainty as anticipated.
An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the region dipped to 107.9 from 108 in February, the European Commission in Brussels said Thursday. While that’s lower than the 108.3 median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists, it’s still close to the highest level since 2011.
The latest health check on the economy follows a string of positive data suggesting the 19-nation bloc is coping with challenges in a potentially tumultuous year with U.K.’s trigger to leave the European Union and elections in France and Germany, the two largest economies in the region, later this year. So far political uncertainty has done little to hurt growth, with a gauge for consumer confidence rising in March and unemployment on a downward path.
Sentiment in industry and services declined this month, while construction improved, Thursday’s report showed. The European Union’s statistics agency will release March inflation data on Friday, with economists expecting a deceleration to 1.8 percent from 2 percent in February.
The European Central Bank acknowledges the recovery is firming but not strong enough to fuel self-sustaining inflation and allow for an end of extraordinary monetary support. It holds its next policy meeting on April 27.
— With assistance by Andre Tartar, and Marco Babic