Grim outlook as sentiment remains weak

EUROPE’S finance leaders met yesterday as sentiment for the currency bloc they represent lay in the doldrums.

Consumer confidence rose slightly across the Eurozone, though remains at low levels, the French business climate is deteriorating and Spain’s economy is expected to contract sharply this year, official data showed yesterday.

The European Commission’s consumer confidence index rose from minus 21.3 in December to minus 20.6 in January.

Confidence remains at its second lowest level since August 2009.

The French business climate deteriorated to 91 last month on the statistics agency’s index. A score of 100 represents the long-term average.

Meanwhile the Bank of Spain estimated GDP shrank by 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2011 and forecasts a 1.3 per cent fall this year.

Despite the grim news, an €8.202bn (£6.86bn) French bill auction went smoothly.