In May, European Commission’s economic confidence fell for a third consecutive month. Economic confidence fell from a downwardly revised 106.1 to 105.5, slightly below the consensus estimate (of 105.7). The details show a significant weakening in industrial (3.9 from 5.6) and services (9.2 from 10.4) confidence and also retail (- 2.5 from -1.8) and construction (-24.6 from -24.3) sentiment deteriorated in May. Weakness across several sectors was partly offset by an improvement in consumer confidence (-9.8 from -11.6). The final figure of European Commission’s consumer confidence showed however a slight downward revision compared to the first estimate (-9.8 from -9.7). National data illustrate that weakness was broad-based as economic sentiment deteriorated in both core (Germany, France, the Netherlands) and non-core (Greece, Portugal) EMU countries. While the decline was somewhat smaller than in the PMI’s, economic confidence fell for a third straight month, which signals an trend reversal and provides further evidence that the recovery in the euro zone is losing steam.
In Germany, CPI inflation unexpectedly fell back in May, according to the first estimate. On a yearly basis, German CPI dropped from 2.7% Y/Y to 2.4% Y/Y, while the consensus was looking for a stabilization. The details of the six states show that prices of food, alcohol and tobacco rose in May, but this was more than offset by lower prices for transportation, household energy, leisure and entertainment and package holidays. The drop in prices was probably only a temporary pull-back after the Easter Holidays while also the decline in the oil price was an important factor in this month’s data. Nevertheless, German inflation remains significantly above the ECB’s 2%-target, which will most likely remain the case in the coming months.