RTTNews - Thursday, results of a closely watched survey showed that Eurozone economic sentiment improved for the second straight month in May after reaching a historical low in March. Meanwhile, German unemployment recorded a mild increase in May compared to previous months, official data indicated.

Eurozone

The Eurozone economic sentiment index rose to a six-month high of 69.3 in May from 67.2 in April, the European Commission's monthly survey revealed. The reading stood above the expected level of 69.

A separate survey from the European Commission revealed that business confidence in the euro area rose slightly to minus 3.17 in May from minus 3.26 last month. Economists were expecting a reading of minus 3.1.

In Germany, the seasonally adjusted number of unemployed rose 1,000 to 3.46 million in May after changing the way it was calculated before, the Federal Labor Agency said. Economists had forecast an increase of 64,000 for May after the revised rise of 57,000 in April. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 8.2% from 8.3%.

Earlier in the day, the Federal Statistical Office said the seasonally adjusted ILO jobless rate for Germany rose to 7.7% in April from 7.4% recorded in the same month of the previous year. The number of unemployed amounted to a seasonally adjusted 3.34 million in April.

The French housing ministry said housing permits in the three months to April fell 22.6% year-on-year, sharper than a 17.6% decline recorded in the three months to March. The ministry said in a statement that due to computer-related disruptions it could not release the housing starts data.

According to the latest set of economic tendency surveys carried out by the think-tank ISAE, Italian manufacturing confidence indicator rose to 68.7 in May from 65.5 in April, the highest since December 2008. It also marked the second rise after seven consecutive declines.

A flash estimate from the National Statistics Institute showed that the Spanish harmonized consumer price index fell 0.8% year-on-year in May, while economists expected a 0.7% decline.

Ireland's manufacturing output dropped 6.8% year-on-year in March, faster than a 1.7% fall in February, the Central Statistics Office said. Separately, the agency reported that the trade surplus decreased to EUR3.1 billion in March from EUR3.6 billion in February.

Belgium's National Institute of Statistics announced that the consumer price index dropped 0.37% year-over-year in May, in contrast to a 0.60% increase in the previous month. This was the first decline in consumer prices since 1960.

Statistics Portugal said in a report that the consumer confidence stood at minus 46.2 in May, up from minus 49.5 in April.

Final consumption expenditure by households in the Netherlands fell 3.3% year-on-year in March, reflecting a fall in spending on most goods, the Central Bureau of Statistics said.

Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic said the industrial producer prices decreased 6.5% year-over-year in April, after falling 6% in March.

Rest of Europe

Retail sales in the UK dropped again in May after showing some improvements in April, the latest distributive trades survey carried out by the Confederation of British Industry or CBI showed. The industrial lobby said 48% of retailers surveyed said year-on-year sales volume was down in the first half of May, while 31% said sales grew. The resulting balance was minus 17%, down from plus 3% recorded in the previous month.

The Swiss trade surplus increased in April as exports recorded a monthly growth of 8.3%, reversing a 6.6% fall in March, the Federal Customs Administration said.

Switzerland's watch exports dropped 26.3% year-on-year in April to 1.04 billion francs, a report by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH said.

The Danish economy is set to shrink 2.9% this year, after a 1.1% contraction in 2008, the Danish Economic Council, otherwise known as the Wise Men said in a report. This would be the biggest decline since 1950s.

Statistics Denmark reported that the industrial confidence indicator stood at minus 33 in May, on a seasonally adjusted basis, down from minus 23 in the preceding month.

Croatia's Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the average monthly gross earnings per person in employment increased 5.6% year-over-year in March, compared with a 3.5% increase in the previous month.

Statistics Iceland announced that the producer price index or PPI rose 12.5% year-over-year in April, faster than the 11.6% increase in the previous month.

Lithuania's GDP contracted a by a revised 13.6% year-on-year in the first quarter, after registering a 2.2% decline in the fourth quarter, the latest report from the Statistics Lithuania said. In the preliminary estimate on April 28, the GDP was reported to have fallen 12.6% annually in the first quarter.

Swedish producer price annual inflation slowed to 3.2% in April from 4.8% in March, the Statistics Sweden announced. Economists had expected annual growth to ease to 4.3%. Separately, the agency said retail sales increased 5% year-over-year in April, compared to the 2% fall in the preceding month. Economists were looking for an increase of 0.3%.

Hungary's Central Statistical Office announced that the jobless rate stood at 9.9% in the February to April period, faster than the 9.7% recorded in the January to March period.

In other news, the Swedish National Debt Office said it will further increase exposure in foreign currency with the aim of reducing the costs of central government debt. The government decided to increase the mandate for strategic krona positions by SEK 35 billion to SEK 50 billion from the current SEK 15 billion. This position will be built up gradually until 1 November 2009, the report showed.

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