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EU Says Economic Sentiment Slips

May 3, 2002

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BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Economic sentiment declined last month in the 12 European countries using the euro as their common currency, the European Union executive commission said Friday.

The euro-zone’s overall economic sentiment indicator fell by 0.1 points in April to 99.4, putting an end to four months of consecutive increases, the commission said.

After rising three points in March, industrial confidence remained stable in April. Analysts had predicted a decline, but rising export orders accounted for the better-than-expected result.

Consumers were more pessimistic, however. Despite stable unemployment and falling inflation, consumer confidence fell one point to minus-10 in April, in line with economists’ forecasts. This follows two months of stability in the indicator.

``As a general rule, European consumers expect a slight worsening in their financial situation over the next 12 months,″ the commission said.

While economists are not jubilant about the confidence figures, they still expect a pickup through the rest of the year.

In its spring economic forecast last month, the EU forecast 1.4 percent growth for the euro zone this year, better than the 1.3 percent predicted last November. It forecast 2.9 percent growth for 2002.

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