BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone economic sentiment fell less than expected in October, data showed on Tuesday, thanks to small improvements in optimism among consumers and in the retail sector, which helped limit the downward pull from industry, services and construction.
The European Commission's monthly business and consumer survey showed the economic sentiment indicator for the 17 countries using the euro fell to 84.5 points this month from a revised 85.2 points in September.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a decline to 84.0 points from the previously reported 85 points.
Separately, the Commission's business climate indicator, which points to the phase of the economic cycle, fell to a three-year-low of -1.62 points in October from -1.34 in September - the lowest reading since September 2009, when it was -1.9.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a decline to -1.4.
The Commission said consumer sentiment inched up to -25.7 from -25.9, marginally less than expected by forecasters, and retail sector optimism rose to -17.4 from -18.5.
But sentiment in industry declined to -18 from -15.9 against expectations of a fall to -17.0 and in services fell to -12.1 from -11.9, less than the expected decline to -12.5.
The euro zone economy stagnated in the first three months of the year and contracted 0.2 percent in the April-June period. Economists expect another contraction in the third quarter.
Two consecutive quarters of contraction is considered to mark recession.
The Commission survey also showed that selling price expectations among manufacturers rose to 1.5 in October from 0.6 in September. Among euro zone consumers, however, inflation expectations over the next 12 months declined slightly to 26.9 from 28.1.
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Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Rex Merrifield