The European Commission’s economic sentiment index rose from November’s 105.1 to record 106.2 last month – its highest level since October 2007.
The results were driven by strong increases in industrial and retail confidence, a relief for European shops after November data revealed a 0.8 per cent fall in retail sales.
“We expect brighter news for the all important Christmas trading period,” said Chris Williamson of Markit. “The retail purchasing managers’ index indicates that sales rose at the fastest rate for two and a half years in December, with particularly buoyant trading in Germany and France.”
The Eurozone’s core economies continue to drive forward, offsetting slumps in troubled peripheral and Mediterranean countries.
While business confidence remains strong in Germany (and grew by 1.5 per cent), “both Greece and Spain saw a decline in economic sentiment, and also in Portugal the economic mood remains depressed,” according to ING’s Martin van Vliet.
Meanwhile, Germany’s industrial boom looks set to continue, after new factory orders rose by 5.2 per cent in November compared to the previous month, massively above expectations.
Orders from non Eurozone countries jumped by 14.8 per cent on October. “It is clear that the industry led recovery will continue,” said ING’s Carsten Brzeski.