In August, European Commission’s economic confidence dropped for a sixth consecutive month, providing further evidence that growth is weakening in the euro area. Economic confidence fell from a downwardly revised 103 to 98.3, while the consensus was looking for a more moderate decline (to 100.2). Sector details show that weakness was broad-based as sentiment deteriorated in the industrial (-2.9 from 0.9), services (3.7 from 7.9) and retail (-8.7 from -3.6) sector, while confidence improved slightly in the construction sector (-23.3 from -24.3), albeit from low levels. As was already indicated by the first estimate, consumer confidence weakened sharply in August, falling from -11.2 to -16.5. National data show that confidence deteriorated the most Belgium (99.6 from 105.9), Germany (107.0 from 112.7), Portugal (78.7 from 83.7), Austria (98.9 from 103.0) and the Netherlands (93.7 from 96.7), while
sentiment improved in Greece (73.7 from 70.9) and weakened only marginally in Spain (92.7 from 93.0) and Italy (94.1 from 94.8). National details show that the deterioration in sentiment was mainly due to weakness in core EMU countries, while there are signs of stabilization in the non-core countries as Greece, Spain and Italy (except for Portugal).
In Belgium, inflationary pressures eased somewhat in August, after reaching its highest level in almost three years in July. On a monthly basis, CPI inflation dropped by 0.08% M/M to an annual level of 3.60% Y/Y (from 3.75% Y/Y). The details show that prices of food and beverages (-0.39% M/M), housing, water & electricity (-0.12% M/M) and leisure & culture (-0.12% M/M) dropped in August, while prices of clothing & shoes and hotels & restaurants rose in the same month. After already a downward surprise in Spanish and German CPI inflation, this outcome raises expectations that also today’s euro zone CPI inflation reading might surprise on the downside of expectations.