Euro zone economic sentiment edges up on Italy, Spain optimism

FILE PHOTO: Containers are seen at a terminal in the port of Hamburg, Germany November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone economic mood improved in December, driven up by optimism in Italy and Spain, as growing confidence in services more than offset worsening sentiment among consumers and at factories, European Commission data showed on Wednesday.

The Commission’s monthly survey showed economic sentiment in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose to 101.5 points in December from 101.2 in November, a second consecutive monthly rise and above the average forecast of 101.4 points in a Reuters poll of economists.

The improved sentiment was driven by higher confidence in services, the biggest economic sector in the bloc, and in construction.

Sentiment in industry slightly fell despite factory managers expecting their selling prices to rise. The mood among consumers worsened markedly, as households predicted worsening economic conditions.

Among the bloc’s largest economies, the indicator improved markedly in Italy, where it rebounded above the long-term average after a minor slip in November.

The euro zone’s third economy recorded an improved mood in all the monitored economic sectors with a jump in optimism among shop owners in coincidence with the Christmas sales season.

The overall indicator rose significantly also in Spain, and edged up in Germany, the euro zone’s largest economy. There, the mood among manufacturers battered by global trade wars recorded a new seven-year low but was compensated by surging confidence in services.

The overall economic mood went slightly down in France, because of lower optimism among consumers.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop