Eurozone Businesses, Households Gain Confidence in November

By Paul Hannon Features Dow Jones Newswires

Businesses and households in the eurozone continued to gain confidence in November, led by a more upbeat France and despite a slightly less positive Germany.

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The rising optimism across the currency area is consistent with other indications that the economic recovery will continue at its newly robust pace into 2018, providing a boost for the global outlook at a time when the U.S. is also showing signs of strength.

The European Commission on Wednesday said that its Economic Sentiment Indicator, which aggregates business and consumer confidence, rose to 114.6 from 114.1 in October to reach its highest level since October 2000. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a slightly smaller rise.

French consumers led the pickup, shaking off two months of gloom. The country's businesses were also more upbeat, although the improvement during the month was less dramatic.

That sense of optimism is a shot in the arm for French President Emmanuel Macron, and may ease the 39-year-old leader's efforts to reduce the nation's budget deficit and make contentious changes to its labor laws.

The strengthening confidence suggests that the eurozone economy will continue to enjoy a more robust pace of growth in the final months of what has already been a surprisingly strong year. Businesses that are more confident tend to invest more, while optimistic households spend more freely.

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It also suggests that stronger growth will continue into next year.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday had forecast that the eurozone economy would grow by 2.4% this year and by 2.1% in 2018--up from 1.8% in 2016.

Yet while growth has picked up this year, inflation hasn't, to the frustration of the European Central Bank, which aims to keep prices rising at just below 2% a year over the medium term.

However, the European Commission's survey recorded a further rise in the rate at which consumers anticipate prices will increase over the coming 12 months. There was also a sharp jump in the prices manufacturers expect to be able to charge, although service providers see a slight slowdown in their price increases.

Write to Paul Hannon at paul.hannon@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 29, 2017 05:15 ET (10:15 GMT)