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Economy in Brief

Dutch, Slovene and Italian Consumers a Little More Confident: Dutch, Slovene, and French Business a Little Less So 
by Louise Curley May 23, 2006

Several confidence indicators were released today--consumer and business indicators for the Netherlands and Slovenia, consumer confidence for Italy and business confidence for France.

Consumer confidence rose in both the Netherlands and in Slovenia in May, but confidence remains weak in both countries. Pessimists continue to outweigh optimists. In the Netherlands the excess of pessimists declined from 6% to 4%, while in Slovenia, the comparable figures were 19% and 15%. The first chart shows consumer confidence in the Netherlands and Slovenia, expressed as the percent balance between pessimists and optimists. Consumers in Italy also were slightly more optimistic in May than in April. The ISAE (Instituto de Studie Analisi Economica) Index of consumer confidence rose from 106.0 in April (1980=100) to 107.6 in May. Once again, it is clear from the second chart that the overall mood of the Italian consumer is subdued.

Both the Netherlands and Slovenia have also reported measures of business confidence. In both countries, those looking for improvement in the outlook have been greater than those looking for a deterioration since the last half of 2005. The percent balance, however, weakened in May. In the Netherlands the excess of optimists over pessimists fell from 6.1% in April to 3.3% in May. In Slovenia, the comparable figures were 7% and 6%. Business confidence measures in the two countries are shown in the third chart. In France, the INSEE (Institut de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques) Monthly Business Survey also showed some weakness in business confidence. The percent balance of those responding to questions on the general outlook in manufacturing declined from 2% in April to 1% in May.

Japan: Mar 06 Feb 06 Mar 05 M/M DIF Y/Y DIF 2005 2004  2003  
The Netherlands (% Bal)
 Consumer Confidence -4 -6 -22 2 18 -22 -25 -35
 Business Confidence 3.3 6.1 0.8 -2.8 2.5 0.6 -0.1 -5.6
Slovenia (% Bal)
 Consumer Confidence -15 19 14 4 -1 -20 -19 -20
 Business Confidence 6 7 -1 -1 7 -0 1 -4
Italy (1980=100)
 Consumer Confidence 106.7 106.0 104.2 1.51* 3.26* 104.2 101.4 106.1
France  (% Bal)
 Business Outlook  1 2 -23 -1 24 -12 5 -29
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