April 29, 2020 / 9:34 AM / a month ago

Euro zone economic sentiment suffers steepest ever fall in April

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Eurozone economic sentiment suffered its steepest ever decline in April, plunging by more than expected as coronavirus lockdowns brought much economic activity to a halt, a monthly European Commission survey showed on Wednesday.

The economic sentiment crashed to 67.0 points - its largest fall since measurements started in 1985 - from a downwardly revised 94.2 in March and 103.4 in February. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a fall to 74.7 points.

The biggest drop was in the services sector, which generates two-thirds of euro zone GDP — the indicator fell to -35.0 points from -2.3 in March. Sentiment in industry tumbled to -30.4 from -11.2 and in retail trade to -28.3 from -8.6.

Confidence among consumers dropped to 22.7 in April from 11.6 in March, in line with the earlier published flash estimate.

The survey also showed unemployment expectations among consumers increased to 63.0 points in April from 22.8 in March, coming close to a record high of 70.7 reached at the peak of the euro zone’s last deep recession in 2009.

Consumers also now expect a jump in prices - their indicator for price trends over the next 12 months surged to 29.1 from 23.0 in March.

Yet companies expect the opposite — the indictor for selling price expectations for retailers fell to -8.4 in the euro zone in April from 3.9 in March and in the manufacturing industry it fell to -7.9 from -0.3 in March.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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