Euro zone confidence bounces back in May: Survey

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Consumer and business confidence in the 17-nation euro zone bounced back in May after a sharp drop in April, a European Commission survey showed on Thursday.

The combined business and consumer confidence index added 0.8 points in May to 89.4 after falling 1.5 points in April, the Commission said, reporting a broad-based improvement in all sectors but construction.

For the full 27-member European Union, the index rose 1.1 points to 90.8, after a drop of 1.8 points in April.

In the euro zone alone, industrial sector confidence was up 0.8 points in May, with services rebounding a strong 1.8 points, while consumer confidence added a more modest 0.4 points, dampened by continuing high unemployment rates.

The construction sector tumbled a sharp 2.0 points.

By country, the confidence reading rose 1.8 points in bailed-out Portugal, followed by 1.5 points in Italy, 0.9 points in France and 0.6 points in Germany.

Mr Howard Archer from IHS Global said the May report, along with other data, suggested there was a "limited overall pick up in economic sentiment," pointing towards a second quarter stabilisation in the economy.

"However, sentiment is still pretty muted and fragile, and the situation varies markedly between countries," Mr Archer said in a statement.

"If the euro zone does finally manage to stop contracting overall in the second quarter, it is likely to be heavily dependent on clear growth in Germany."

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