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Economy in Brief

Confidence in the Euro Zone:  Lower in Germany and Belgium But a Surprise Rise in Italian Consumer Confidence
by Louise Curley April 25, 2005

The IFO indexes of business conditions and expectations in Germany declined further in April as heralded by the ZEW indicator of market sentiment, released last week.

The respondents to thesurvey have become more pessimistic regarding their expectations than regarding their current conditions since April of 2004 as shown in the first chart where the year-to-year changes in expectations and current conditions are plotted.

Other confidence measures released recently include Belgium's BNB (Banque Nationale de Belgique) indicators of business and consumer confidence, both of which declined in April. The only bit of optimism, surprisingly, was shown in Italy's ISEA (Instituto Nationale de Statistica) index of consumer confidence which increased by 0.58% from March and 3.05% from April, 2004. The year-to-year changes in this measure are shown in the second chart together with the year-to-year changes in Belgium's measure of consumer confidence. Italy's consumers have, so far this year, shown positive changes from the corresponding months of 2004 while Belgium consumers have become negative.

Euro-Zone countries: Apr 05 Mar 05 Apr 04 M/M %
  or Dif
Y/Y % 
or Dif
 2004    2003   2002
IFO Index (2000=100) Germany                
Business Climate 93.3 94.0 96.4 -0.74 -3.22 95.7 91.7 89.4
Business Conditions 93.1 93.3 95.0 -0.21 -2.00 94.0 88.4 85.3
Business Expectations 93.6 94.6 97.8 -1.06 -4.29 97.4 95.1 93.8
BNB % Balance Belgium                
Business Confidence -11.6 -8.0 -0.6 -3.6 -12.2 2.3 12.9 7.9
Consumer Confidence -5 -2 -4 -3 -1 -4 -11 -2
ISEA (1980=100) Italy                
Consumer Confidence 104.8 104.2 101.7 0.58 3.05 100.4 106.8 115.8
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