European Commission Economic Sentiment Indicator and Capacity Utilisation, April 2023: The European Commission (EC) draws from a range of surveys to construct confidence indicators for six sectors of the economy and then uses five of these (financial services is not used) make up its Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI). The other point to note is that although labelled as “April 2023” or “Q2-2023”, data collection ran from 1st to 20th April so the data really refers to March or Q1-2023.
The latest monthly reading of the ESI was unchanged in the EU and edged up for the Euro-zone but this is not significantly different from a stable position. There was, however, a variation between the sectors with a sharp improvement in consumer confidence balanced by a similarly sized dip for industry; the services and retail trade sectors saw confidence edge up and it was broadly unchanged for the construction industry.
Industry confidence is calculated from three survey questions and all of them showed a weaker situation; expectations for production over the coming quarter fell, as did the current level of total order books and this was accompanied by more companies assessing stocks of finished products being above normal. Two other questions are reported but don’t form part of the confidence calculation; respondents were more positive about output over the past quarter but noted that export order books edged down.
Among the largest EU economies, the ESI in Spain jumped up sharply and to a less extent in Poland and Germany; it also edged slightly higher in Italy but fell significantly in the Netherlands and to an even greater extent in France.
The ESI is calculated as an index which is based on its long-run average; Across the EU, there were 9 countries whose ESI was above 100 – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania and, new this month, Spain (note that Ireland appears to have left this survey as we have not had any results from them since the start of this year).
As with the CBI survey that we have reported on in the UK section, this is one of the quarterly reports that gives us data on capacity utilisation (CU) in the manufacturing sector. While the reading for the EU edged down, the Euro-zone improved slightly. The level of CU fell in Spain, Italy and Germany but improved in France (UK unchanged – see report in the UK news article). Among the next group of countries by size, CU improved in Belgium, Sweden and Poland but fell in Hungary, Austria and the Netherlands.
You can download the EC report and statistical annex from their web-site at https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/indicators-statistics/economic-databases/business-and-consumer-surveys/download-business-and-consumer-survey-data/press-releases_en (open the drop down menu for 2023) or you can request it from MTA.
European Commission Investment Survey, April 2023: Twice per year, as part of the Economic Sentiment report (see above), the European Commission (EC) conducts an investment survey which looks at the prospects for investment spending on a calendar year basis. This uses the balance of “up” and “down” responses but take no account of the “neutral” replies.
For 2022, there was a positive balance of +24 in the EU, suggesting a significant increase in investment spending took place. This was well ahead of the assessments from the Autumn 2022 survey but in line with the two previous views of the prospects for 2022. This positivity was repeated in most of the major economies, with Spain as the main outlier with a balance of just +6; Hungary (+12) and Austria (+13) were also relatively weak.
Looking forward to 2023, we have similar balances with the EU at +23 and the Euro-zone marginally stronger at +24. These also represent a significant uprating of expectations from last Autumn’s survey view of 2023 and we see a similar effect in most countries. For this year, the strongest balances are in Belgium, Spain and Turkey (the candidate countries are included in this report), with the lowest being in Austria, Poland and Finland. Hungary and Finland are the only countries where the current view of 2023 is lower than it was last Autumn.
Details of these results are part of the documents covered in the reports above which you can access at from their web-site at https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/indicators-statistics/economic-databases/business-and-consumer-surveys/download-business-and-consumer-survey-data/press-releases_en (open the drop down menu for 2023) or you can request it from MTA.