After falling to its lowest level since May 2009, European Commission’s consumer confidence picked up marginally in October. According to the first estimate, European Commission’s consumer confidence rose from -25.9 to -25.6, while stabilization at low levels was expected. There are no details yet available, but after worsening sharply over the previous months, the slight pick-up in consumer sentiment is a welcome sign. The climate remains however poor with record high unemployment rates, slow wage growth and austerity measures weighing on consumers’ budgets.
After staying broadly stable around -11.5 in the third quarter, Belgian business confidence weakened at the start of the fourth quarter to its lowest level since October 2009. Belgian business confidence dropped from -11.6 to -13.5 due to broad-based weakness. Sentiment deteriorated across all sectors: manufacturing (from -13.7 to -15.6), trade (from -13.9 to -15.6), construction (-11.3 from -8.8) and business services (-6.0 from -4.4). Earlier yesterday, also French business confidence surprised on the downside of expectations. French business confidence dropped from 90 to 85 in October, while a stabilization was expected. Also the French reading is now at its lowest level since 2009. Ahead of today’s PMI’s and the German IFO, it is a poor sign suggesting that business conditions worsened further at the start of the fourth quarter.