Eurozone economic confidence hits highest level since 2000
Eurozone economic confidence continued rise, reaching its highest level since October 2000 in December.
Figures from the European Commission showed the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI), which mirrors the economic confidence, increased strongly by 1.4 points in the Eurozone to 116.0, and by 1.6 points in the EU to 115.9 in December from the previous month, reaching the highest levels since October (euro area) and August 2000 (EU) respectively, while continuing the upward trend observable since autumn 2016.
The more optimistic Eurozone sentiment was primarily boosted by marked increases in confidence in the service, retail and construction sectors. Confidence rose further in industry and among consumers as well.
Amongst the largest euro-area economies, the ESI rose strongly in France by 2.3 points and Germany by 1.6 points and, to a lesser extent, in the Netherlands by 0.7 percent. It remained unchanged in Italy while decreased slightly in Spain by 0.8 points.
Capital Economics' European economist Stephen Brown said the data pointed to quarterly GDP growth of around 0.8 percent, roughly consistent with annual growth of 3.2 percent.
However, he said despite signs of strong growth in the Eurozone, consumers' 12-month inflation expectations fell to a four-month low in December.
"So there might be upside risks to the already above-consensus forecast for euro-zone GDP growth of 2.3 percent in 2018; we doubted that this will prompt the European Central Bank to alter its dovish stance," he said.