RTTNews - Wednesday, official data confirmed that the euro area contracted the most since records began in 1995 on plummeting investment and exports. In the UK, consumer confidence rose to a six-month high in May on expectations that the economy may recover from the recession soon.

Eurozone

A preliminary estimate from the statistical office Eurostat showed that the 16-nation Euro bloc contracted 2.5% in the first quarter from the fourth quarter. This was the largest decline since 1995 and matched the initial estimate released on May 15. The decline in the fourth quarter was 1.8%. The stretch of contraction, which started in the second quarter of 2008, indicates severe recession.

Separately, the Eurostat said Eurozone industrial producer prices dropped 4.6% year-over-year in April, compared with a 2.9% fall in the previous month, revised from 3.1% drop reported initially. Economists had expected a decline of 4.5%.

The decline in Eurozone service sector activities eased further in May, reports said, citing data released by the Markit Economics. The purchasing managers' index or PMI for the Eurozone service sector rose to 44.8 in May from a flash reading of 44.7 and 43.8 in April. The PMI thus reached a seven-month high. However, the headline index is still below the 50-mark that divides expansion and contraction.

Slovakia's gross domestic product or GDP at constant prices fell a revised 5.6% year-on-year in the first quarter, after a 2.5% rise in the fourth quarter, the country's statistical office said. Initially, the GDP was reported to have fallen 5.4%. For the whole year, the statistical office forecasts the GDP of the Eurozone member country to contract 3.5%.

Further, the statistical office said that the number of unemployed persons totaled 281,000 in the first quarter, an increase of 500 persons from the previous year. The jobless rate stood at 10.5% in the first quarter. The statistical office also said the average monthly real wages rose 1.6% year-on-year in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Social and Economic Reforms or INEKO, a think-tank within the Slovak Republic, estimates the country's GDP to drop 4.3% in the present year compared to their earlier estimate of a 1% drop in March. However, the think-tank expects the GDP to grow 0.6% next year.

Rest of Europe

The Nationwide Building Society said the UK consumer confidence indicator climbed to 53 in May from 51 in April, the highest since November 2008. Meanwhile, economists had forecast a reading of 52.

British shop price inflation dropped further in May, the British Retail Consortium said. Year-on-year, the shop price index rose 1.3% in May slower than the 1.4% increase in the previous month. This was the second consecutive month of decline in shop price inflation.

In other news, the CIPS/Markit PMI for the British service sector unexpectedly moved above the 50-mark to record a growth for the first time in a year. The indicator rose to 51.7 in May from 48.7 in April, while forecast was for a reading of 49.5. That was the sixth consecutive gain.

U.K. government net reserves rose $2.12 billion in May to bring the end-May total to $30.06 billion, the HM Treasury said. Net reserves had totaled $27.94 billion at end-April.

Moldova's National Bureau of Statistics announced that the exports decreased 21.9% year-on-year and the trade deficit stood at US$ 650.7 million in the first four months of the year.

Latvia's Central Statistical Bureau announced that the industrial production decreased a working day adjusted 16.9% year-over-year in April, compared with a 23.4% fall in March.

Statistics Lithuania announced that the jobless rate stood at 11.9% in the first quarter, up from 7.9% recorded in the previous quarter.

Sweden's current account surplus for the first quarter decreased by SEK28.3 billion from last year to SEK53.2 billion, the Statistics Sweden said.

Statistics Denmark announced that the total employment dropped a seasonally adjusted 2.6% sequentially in the first quarter, compared to the 0.9% fall in the previous quarter.

Norway's current account surplus narrowed to NOK 76 billion in the first quarter from NOK 144 billion surplus recorded in the fourth quarter of 2008, the Statistics Norway said.

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