Euro zone Feb sentiment rises more than expected despite coronavirus

BRUSSELS, Feb 27 (Reuters) – Euro zone economic sentiment improved more then expected in February on more confidence among consumers and in industry despite the global outbreak of the coronavirus, European Commission data showed on Thursday.

The Commission said economic sentiment in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose to 103.5 points this month from 102.6 in January, continuing a steady upward trend since October.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a small rise to 102.8. Sentiment in industry rose to -6.1 in February from -7.0 in January, defying market expectations of a deterioration.

Confidence among consumers rose to -6.6 from -8.1 and sentiment in the biggest services sector also improved a little to 11.2 from 11.0.

Meanwhile European shares fell again on Thursday, with travel stocks taking the biggest knock, as a jump in new coronavirus cases outside of China deepened fears of a pandemic that could dent global growth.

Governments around the world ramped up measures to battle the looming global pandemic.

Separately, the Commission’s survey showed selling price expectations in industry continued the upward trends since November, rising to 3.8 from 2.9 in January.

Among consumers, price expectations 12 months ahead showed the same trend, rising to 21.1 from 20.7 in January, well above the long-term average of 18.6.

This is likely to be welcome news for the European Central Bank which has been keen to accelerate consumer price growth closer to its target of below, but close to 2 percent over the medium term. (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)

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