EU consumer confidence at two-year high

 
Julian Harris
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MORALE among consumers in Eurozone countries has surged to its highest level in almost two years, according to research announced today.

The European Commission’s “flash” consumer confidence index for November was measured at -9.5, considerably higher than the expected level of -11, around which the index has floated for the last couple of months. In May the index reached a seven month low of -17.8.

The result is a boost for retailers, yet it remains to be seen if the greater confidence translates into higher sales. In August and September there were falls in retail sales across the Eurozone, according to data compiled by the EU’s Eurostat office.

In September retail trade fell by 0.2 per cent on the previous month in Eurozone countries, and by 0.1 per cent across the whole of the EU.

Sales of non-food items fell by 0.3 per cent in both areas.

October’s results contained mixed messages, according to Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight. European consumers were more willing than before to make major purchases, but less willing to splash their cash over the coming 12 months, he said.

“Improved consumer confidence may not translate into significantly higher spending over the coming months,” warned Archer.

Europe’s prospects of recovery will be clearer today as the Eurozone announces findings of the latest Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), and Germany’s GDP figures are made public.

The PMI, which measures economic activity, is expected to fall according to Ben May of Capital Finance.

“We expect the strength of the euro and the effects of fiscal squeeze to have prompted both the manufacturing and services indices to have fallen,” he said.