EUROPE - Business confidence throughout Europe has continued its steady climb and is now back up to pre-September 11 levels, according to new figures from the European Commission (EC).
According to the EC’s Business Climate Indicator (BCI), confidence continued to rise in March, increasing by 0.3 and 0.2 percentage points in the EU and the euro area respectively. Business confidence - now standing at 99.8 points - is only half a percentage point lower than the level reached in August 2001.
The change in confidence between February and March was positive in most countries - the economic sentiment indicator was up in Greece and the UK by 0.1 points; France and Ireland, 0.2 points; Finland and Portugal, 0.5 points; Sweden, 0.3 points. Belgium and Germany saw the biggest increase in business confidence, rising 0.8 points and 0.7 points respectively.
However, whilst confidence remained stable in Denmark it decreased in four nations. Austria saw the biggest drop, down 0.4 points, with Spanish economic confidence falling 0.3 points. The Netherlands saw a -0.2 point drop in confidence, whilst Italy saw a -0.1 drop.
The BCI is a monthly indicator designed to deliver an assessment of the cyclical situation within the euro area, using business and consumer surveys from the directorate general for economic and financial affairs, separating out the information that is common to each of the series.
By Geoffrey Ho
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