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ECONOMIC NEWS THIS WEEK

European Commission Economic Sentiment Indicator and Capacity Utilisation, April 2019:  The European Commission (EC) pulls together a range of surveys, including from the CBI (see above) to construct its Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI).  This registered another significant fall in both the Euro-zone and the EU28, with a strong decrease in industrial confidence leading the way (alongside weakness in the financial services indicator).

This decline in industry confidence was driven by more pessimistic views of survey respondents on all three elements of the calculation - production expectations, the current level of orders books and stocks of finished products.  Although not included in the measure of confidence, there was also a sharp fall in the assessment of past production, but the situation regarding export order books eased.

This was one of the quarterly surveys that covers additional indicators including the figures for capacity utilisation.  The Euro-zone and EU28 manufacturing capacity utilisation rates both fell from the previous quarter and are at their lowest level since the 2nd quarter of 2017 - however, it is worth noting that they remain above their long-run averages.  The capacity utilisation rate for the UK also fell, but the path here has been a little different and despite the decline in the latest figure it is still higher than in the October 2018 survey, but is right on the long-run average.

Capacity utilisation also fell in Germany, France, Italy and, to a lesser extent, in Spain;  however, with the exception of France, they all remain well above their long-run averages.

You can download the EC report 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 or you can request it from MTA.