Euro-Zone February economic confidence (ESI) dropped to 65.4. The January reading was revised down to 67.2 from 68.9 reported initially. We had been looking for a modest decline and our median predicted a rise to 69.0 so the number was much weaker than expected and is in fact the lowest on record. The breakdown showed sharp declines in industrial, consumer, services and construction sentiment with only retail sentiment improving slightly as inflation continues to decline. Data support expectations for another negative GDP number in the first quarter of the year and together with the earlier slump in M3 money supply growth adds to pressure on the ECB to deliver another substantial rate cut next week and consider non-conventional tools to speed up monetary easing.
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