BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Euro zone economic sentiment showed a slight improvement in August, boosted by optimisim in the industry and retail sectors and with Spain showing the biggest increase, data showed on Thursday.
The European Commission’s monthly sentiment showed the overall index for the 19 countries sharing the euro at 103.1 points versus 102.7 in the previous month. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 102.3.
The European Central Bank is expected to announce a stimulus package at its Sept. 12 policy meeting and market expectations have been growing, with investors already pricing in several rate cuts for the coming year and a fresh round of bond purchases, commonly known as quantitative easing.
The increase in the August sentiment index was due mainly to higher confidence in industry where the index improved to -5.9 from -7.3 a month earlier, as managers showed more optimisim in production expectations, the current level of overall order books and the stocks of finished products.
The services index eased to 9.3 from 10.6 while consumer confidence fell to -7.1 from -6.6 amid worries about the general economic situation.
Separately, the business climate indicator, which points to the phase of the business cycle, improved to 0.11 points in August from -0.11 a month earlier.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Alissa de Carbonnel)