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Economy in Brief

 Mixed Signals for Europe in Today's Data Releases
by Louise Curley October 24 , 2006

A collection of releases on confidence and consumer spending in Europe were released today. Producer confidence in the Netherlands increased in October while consumer confidence held steady. In Italy consumer confidence fell in October, and in France household consumption of manufactured goods dropped sharply in September after having risen equally sharply in August.

In the Netherlands, the excess of optimists over pessimists among producers rose to 9.0% in October from 7.9% in September and was 4.7 percentage points above October 2005. Although the excess of optimists seems rather small, it is the largest excess since the series began in January, 1985. Dutch producers have shown relatively low swings in confidence ranging from minus 9% to plus 9%.Dutch consumers, on the other hand, have experience much wider mood swings. Since January, 1985, the range of consumer confidence has been between plus twenty-nine and minus forty as can be see in the first chart that shows the entire history of the two series. Confidence among Dutch consumers in October was unchanged from September at 9%, but was 31 percentage points above October, 2005. This was the fifth month that the optimists outweighed the pessimists among Dutch consumers.

Italian consumer confidence fell 1.4% in October from September, but was 2.8% above October 2005. The Italian measure of confidence is expressed as an index with base 1980=100. Much of the decline in the overall indicator in October can be attributed to consumer concern for the future. In appraising the future situation, the October index fell 3.4% from 106.6 in September. In addition there was some loss of confidence in the current situation as evidenced in the decline of 0.8% in that index from September to October. The second chart compares consumers' appraisals of the current and future situations.

Finally, France's INSEE (Institute National de Statistique et Etude Economique) released data on what French households actually are spending on Manufactured Goods. Spending fell 2.69% from 21.040 billion 2000 euros in August to 20.8 billion 2000 euros in September, but August had shown big increase of 3.01% over July. If we take a two month moving average of the data, there is very little change from August to September, as can be seen in the third chart that compares the actual series with the two month moving average series.

Oct 06 Sep 06 Oct 05 M/M % Y/Y % 2005 2004 2003
NETHERLANDS  -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
  Consumer Confidence
     (% bal) 
9 9 -22 0* 3.1* -22 -25 -35
 Producer Confidence (% bal)  9.0 7.9 4.3 1.1* 4.7* .06 -0.1 -5.6
ITALY -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
 Consumer Confidence 108.6 110.1 105.6 -1.36 2.84 104.2 101.4 106.1
 Current Conditions 112.2 113.1 107.6 -0.80 4.28 106.9 102.1 105.1
 Future Conditions 103.0 106.6 101.9 -3.38 1.08 101.1 100.8 107.2
FRANCE Sep 06 Aug 06 Sep 05 M/M % Y/Y % 2005 Mo Avg 2004 Mo Avg 2003 Mo Avg
HH Consumption of Mfg. Goods
(Billion 2000 Euros)
20.825 21.401 21.233 -2.69 2.90 20.012 19.451 18.746
  Two Months Moving Avg. 21.113 21.089 20.261 -0.24 5.50 20.012 19.452 18.746
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