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Eurozone business, consumer confidence slips further: survey

Steel workers use a blow torch on a steel tube on the floor of the HKM steel plant in Duisburg, western Germany, on February 16, 2011© AFP/File Patrik StollarzSteel workers use a blow torch on a steel tube on the floor of the HKM steel plant in Duisburg, western Germany, on February 16, 2011

Brussels (AFP) – Business and consumer confidence in the eurozone slipped again in September, official figures showed on Monday, adding further gloom to the outlook following other recent weak data.

The European Commission said its Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for the 18-nation eurozone fell to 99.9 points in September from 100.6 in August, when it dropped a sharp 1.6 points.

The index is now at its lowest since December, the Commission said, attributing the downturn to “more cautious views of consumers and the retail trade sector.”

It said consumer confidence — a crucial driver in any economy — dropped 1.4 points, the fourth month-on-month decline, amid “increased pessimism about future unemployment, the future general economic situation and, less so, the level of future savings.”

With the main ESI index reading back below the 100-points long-term trend line, analysts said the report added to growing concerns over the economic outlook.

“The further overall dip in business and consumer confidence indicates that the eurozone is having a real struggle to return to clear growth after (the economy) disappointingly stagnated in the second quarter,” said Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.

“While we expect the eurozone to have returned to very modest growth in the third quarter, the economic environment looks fragile,” Archer said.  

Overall, the eurozone economy should grow only 0.8 percent this year, improving to a still very modest 1.3 percent in 2015, he added.


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