RTTNews - Thursday, the European Central Bank said in its Monthly Bulletin that the Eurozone annual HICP inflation rate is expected to stay below 2% in 2010, reflecting ongoing sluggish demand in the euro area and elsewhere.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association or ACEA said the European new passenger car registrations fell for the twelfth straight month in April. Car registrations totaled 1,251,862 units, down 12.3% from the same period of previous year.

Elsewhere, the International Energy Agency, or IEA, revised its forecast for 2009 global oil demand by 0.2 mb/d to 83.2 mb/d from 83.4 mb/d forecast in April.

Eurozone

ECB's Governing Council expects to see headline annual inflation rates declining further in the months ahead and temporarily reaching negative levels around mid-year. Later on, annual inflation rates would increase. However, such short-term movements are not relevant from a monetary policy perspective.

On the same day, ECB Vice President Lucas Papademos said despite a sharp downturn in the first quarter, the Eurozone economy is expected to kick-start recovery sooner than anticipated.

Spain's National Statistics Institute said the economy contracted for the third consecutive quarter. Gross domestic product fell 1.8% sequentially in the first quarter of 2009, following a 1% decline in the fourth quarter of last year.

The Statistics Finland announced that the consumer price index or CPI rose 0.8% year-over-year in April, slower than the 0.9% increase in the previous month. Separately, the statistical office said wages and salaries sum grew 1.8% year-over-year in the January to March period.

The Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics said the CPI rose 1.8% year-over-year in April, slower than the 2% rise recorded in the previous month. Economists were looking an increase of 1.9%. A year ago, the CPI was up 2%.

In Ireland, the CPI dropped 3.5% year-over-year in April, after falling 2.6% in March. Elsewhere, the Irish Exporters Association, or IEA, said the country's exports in the first quarter fell 9.6% year-on-year hit by global economic downturn. The association warned that unemployment in the sector would increase substantially if the government does not provide additional stimulus for the sector.

Greece's General Secretariat of National Statistical Service revealed that the jobless rate stood at 9.1% in February, down from 9.4% in January.

Rest of Europe

Swiss producer and import prices declined more than expected in April, reflecting deflationary pressures in the economy. The producer and import price index dropped 3.6% year-on-year in April due to a 7.6% contraction in import prices and a 1.5% decline in producer prices, the Federal Statistical Office reported. The decline in the index was quicker than a 2.8% fall forecast by economists.

A report from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office showed that the industrial gross output dropped 15.6% year-on-year in March, slower than a 28.9% fall in the previous month.

Retail trade in the Czech Republic decreased 1.1% year-on-year in March, after falling a revised 8.5% in the previous month. Initially, retail trade was reported to show a 7.9% decline in February. Economists were looking a decline of 2.5% for March.

The Central Statistical Office of Poland said consumer prices rose 4% year-over-year in April, faster than the 3.6% increase in the previous month. Economists were looking an increase of 3.8%.

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