RTTNews - Friday, first quarter economic performance report of the British economy was the only major news from European economies. Official data confirmed the worst contraction in the U.K. since the early days of the Margaret Thatcher government in 1979.


Data released by statistical office Istat showed that Italian retail sales rose 0.1% month-on-month in March following revised 0.9% contraction in February. Meanwhile, economists had forecast a 0.2% decline. On an annual basis, sales fell 5.2%, quicker than a revised 4.7% decline in the previous month and a 0.9% drop economists expected.

Greece's current account deficit narrowed to EUR2.7 billion in March from EUR3.56 billion in the previous year, the Bank of Greece said.

The National Statistics Office of Malta said the retail price index rose 4.01% year-on-year in April, slower than a 4.26% increase in March.

The Statistical Service of the Republic of Cyprus said industrial turnover fell 7.6% year-on-year in February, after declining 5.5% in the previous month. Export turnover slipped 10.5%, while the domestic turnover was down 7.2% in February.

Rest of Europe

The British economy shrank 1.9% in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter, un-revised from the previous estimate released on April 24, the Office for National Statistics reported. This was the largest decline since the third quarter of 1979.

The economy had contracted 1.6% in the fourth quarter and 0.7% in the third quarter of 2008. Thus, gross domestic product dipped for the third straight quarter, signaling a severe recession.

Year-on-year, GDP was down 4.1% in the first quarter, much larger than the 2% decline seen in the fourth quarter. The statistical office confirmed the number for the first quarter.

Separately, the Office for National Statistics said the seasonally adjusted index for the U.K.'s service sector output fell 1.2% in the three months to March from the previous quarter. The fall was in line with economists' expectations and follows a revised decrease of 1.3% in the three months to February.

Car production in the U.K. continued to fall sharply in April, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited or SMMT. The latest report showed that car production fell 55.3% year-on-year to 68,258 in April. Commercial vehicle production was down 65.2% to 7,655. Hence, total vehicles produced in April were 56.5% lower than it was in the same month of the previous year.

The Swiss National Bank said M3 money supply growth in April stood at 3.8%, the same rate seen in March. A year ago, the money supply had increased 3.7%.

Business outlook for Central and Eastern Europe turned positive for the first time since September 2007. A survey from the Center for European Economic Research revealed that the ZEW/Erste Group Bank sentiment indicator for Central and Eastern Europe rose 9.9 points to 6 in May. At the same time, the experts' valuation of the current economic situation declined 6.4 to minus 60.4 points.

Tourist arrivals into Turkey rose 6.21% year-on-year in April, reversing a 7.47% fall in March, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said.

Iceland's statistical office said the wage index fell 0.2% month-on-month in April following 0.1% increase in March. On an annual basis, wages rose at a slower pace of 4.4% compared with previous month's 5.5% growth.

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