RTTNews - Wednesday, official data revealed that French consumer confidence and business sentiment indicators edged up in May on expectations that the worst of the recession may be over. However, households remained highly cautious about future unemployment.


The French statistical office INSEE reported that the consumer confidence index rose to minus 40 in May from minus 41 in April. The reading was in line with economists' expectations.

In a separate release, INSEE said the business confidence in May rose to 72 from 71 in April, while it was expected to rise to 73.

Elsewhere, a joint report from the Bank of Italy and the Centre for Economic Policy Research showed that the euro-coin indicator rose to minus 0.89 from revised minus 1.09 in April. The indicator rose for the third straight month.

Italian economic think tank ISAE said its consumer confidence indicator stood at 104.9 in May, unchanged from April. Economists had forecast an increase in the reading to 105. The latest reading was the highest since December 2007.

Italy's hourly wages increased 0.1% month-on-month in April, the statistical institute ISTAT said.

The National Statistics Institute report showed that Spanish retail sales declined 8.4% in April over the same period of prior year. On a calendar adjusted terms, sales were down 7.5% versus an annual 8.2% decrease seen in March.

Finland's manufacturing confidence fell to minus 33 in May from April's revised reading of minus 32, the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK said. Meanwhile, Statistics Finland said in a report that the consumer confidence stood at 7.2 in May, up from 1 in April.

Rest of Europe

In the UK, the number of mortgages approved in the rose to 27,685 in April from 26,671 in March, the British Bankers' Association said. However, approvals for April stood below the expected level of 28,000 and dropped 15.5% from the previous year.

The latest quarterly Service Sector Survey from the Confederation of British Industry revealed that the service sector is still in deep recession, but the fall in activity is starting to slow. Business volume in consumer services declined over the last three months at the biggest rate since November 2001.

The Executive Board of the Riksbank decided to restore the foreign currency reserve levels by borrowing SEK 100 billion. The Swedish central bank intends to borrow the foreign currency through the National Debt Office.

In other news, the latest risk survey by the Swedish central bank showed that almost half of the market participants considered that the financial crisis has peaked, although there remains significant uncertainty. Meanwhile, around one-third of respondents do not believe that the crisis has peaked.

A monthly survey from the National Institute of Economic Research revealed that consumer confidence in the Swedish economy improved substantially by 10 points in May, which was the largest increase between two months since February 1993.

Statistics Sweden announced that the net trade surplus stood at SEK 8.4 billion in April, narrowing from SEK 8.8 billion surplus in the previous month. Economists had expected a trade surplus of SEK 8.1 billion.

Croatia's Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the industrial production decreased 6.5% year-over-year in April, compared to the 7.1% drop in the previous month.

Hungary's economic sentiment indicator rose to minus 40.3 in May from minus 46.2 in April, the GKI Economic Research said. The business confidence index increased to minus 30.4 in May from minus 37 in April.

The National Bank of Romania said the M3 money supply in nominal terms rose 0.3% month-on-month in April, after falling 0.5% in March.

Bulgaria's broad money supply or M3 grew 5.1% on an annual basis in April, slowing from a 6.3% rise in March, the country's central bank said.

Lithuania's average monthly gross earnings rose 1.9% year-on-year in the first quarter, the Statistics Lithuania said.

In central bank action, the National Bank of Poland retained its key interest rate, which is the reference rate, at 3.75%. The decision was in line with economists' expectations.

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