European Commission Economic Sentiment Indicator, August 2019: In an unusual divergence of trends, the European Commission’s (EC) Economic Sentiment Index (ESI) increased slightly in the Euro-zone but continued to decline in the EU28. Among the major Euro-zone economies, Spain saw a significant improvement while Germany and Netherlands edged up, France and Austria were broadly flat and Italy and Belgium saw a significant fall compared to July. Of the two largest non-Euro economies, Poland saw its ESI unchanged, while the UK declined; Sweden also fell, but the Czech Republic and Hungary both improved - the latter significantly so.
The ESI is made up of confidence indicators for industry, services, consumers, retail trade and construction and there is encouraging news with industrial confidence improving strongly compared to July, although the indicators are still just below the long-run average. The improvement resulted from more optimistic views on all three elements of the confidence indicator - production expectations, overall order books and stocks of finished products. In addition, although not included in the industrial confidence indicator, there was also a significant improvement in both past production and export order books.
In the other sectors, the Euro-zone saw confidence fall significantly in service sand construction, less so for consumers and a rise in the retail trade indicator. For the EU28 as a whole, services, consumer and retail trade confidence were down sharply, but construction was unchanged compared to July.
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