Wednesday, official data revealed that Eurozone economic sentiment improved in April, for the first time since May 2007, from a record low. The German economy is likely to grow in 2010 on export recovery and stimulus measures, the government said while forecasting the worst contraction since the World War II for this year.

Eurozone

A survey conducted by the European Commission showed that Eurozone economic sentiment rose to 67.2 in April from a revised reading of 64.7 in March, the first significant increase since May 2007. The index stood above the expected reading of 65.6. The rebound in the index resulted from a clear improvement in sentiment in industry and among consumers.

The European Central Bank said the annual growth rate of M3 in the euro area slowed to 5.1% in March from 5.8% in February. Economists were expecting an annual 5.7% rise.

Germany's Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology said gross domestic product, or GDP, will fall 6% this year, before rising 0.5% in 2010. The forecast for 2009 was lowered from an earlier prediction of a 2.25% contraction.

Hourly wages in Italy rose 0.1% month-on-month in March after rising 0.3% in February, the statistical office ISTAT said. Meanwhile, economists had expected no growth in March.

The National Institute of Statistics said Spanish retail sales declined 7.6% in March from the previous year. On a calendar-adjusted basis, sales slipped 8.2%.

Statistics Portugal said the economic climate indicator moved down to minus 3 in April from minus 2.9 in March.

Ireland's live register total rose to a seasonally adjusted 388,600 in April from 372,800 in March, the Central Statistics Office said. The number of people claiming jobless benefit thus climbed 15,800 from the previous month and grew 188,800 from April 2008. Separately, the agency said the Irish trade surplus increased to a seasonally adjusted EUR 3.69 billion in February from EUR 3.4 billion in January.

The Irish economy is forecast to contract 8.3% this year, after declining 2.2% in 2008, the latest Quarterly Economic Commentary from the Economic and Social Research Institute showed. The contraction for 2010 is seen at 1.1%

The National Bank of Belgium released flash estimates for the first quarter economic performance that showed GDP falling 1.6% quarter-on-quarter on a seasonally and calendar adjusted basis. This came after a 1.7% decline in the final quarter of 2008.

Elsewhere, a report from Statistics Belgium showed that consumer prices rose 0.6% year-on-year in April, slightly slower than the 0.62% pace in March.

Rest of Europe

The Zurich-based think tank KOF announced that its leading indicator for the Swiss economy dropped to a record low of minus 1.86 points in April from minus 1.65 in March, revised from minus 1.79 reported initially. Economists were looking for weaker reading of minus 1.9. The KOF economic barometer, based on a design with three modules, set a new low for the fourth month in a row.

Consumer confidence in Lithuania moved up slightly to minus 50 in April from minus 51 in March, the Statistics Lithuania said.

Denmark's seasonally adjusted industrial confidence indicator declined to minus 34 in April from minus 31 in the preceding month, to reach the same reading as February, a report from Statistics Denmark showed. The services confidence indicator increased to minus 16 in April from minus 25 in March.

Statistics Norway reported that the Norwegian jobless rate rose to 3.1% in the January to March period. During the October to December period, the unemployment rate was 2.8%. Economists had expected a rate of 3.2% for January to March period.

Statistics Iceland said consumer prices rose 11.9% year-on-year in April, slowing from a 15.2% rise in the previous month. Economists expected the prices to increase 11.2%. The consumer price inflation has slowed for the third consecutive month in April.

Hungary's economic sentiment index fell to a record low of minus 46.2 in April from minus 46.1 in March, results of the latest economic tendency survey by the GKI Economic Research showed. The indicator fell for the ninth consecutive month.

The Hungarian statistical office reported that industrial producer prices, which includes both domestic and export sales prices, rose 9.1% year-on-year in March. Pipeline inflation accelerated from 8.4% in February, upwardly revised from the 8% announced initially. The rate rose for the third month in a row.

Sweden's economic tendency indicator, which measures business and consumer confidence, fell to 69.7 in April from 71.2 in March, the National Institute of Economic Research said.

In other news, Turkey's central bank said its next rate cut would be on a measured way as past reductions have diminished the probability of inflation undershooting the end-year target.

Meanwhile, the Polish central bank left interest rates unchanged as expected. The Narodowy Bank Polski held the reference rate, which is the benchmark interest rate, at a record low of 3.75%. The central bank left the rate unchanged after five reductions in a row since November 2008.

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