Eurozone economic confidence logged its strongest monthly decline on record in March as the spread of coronavirus weighed across all sectors.
According to the monthly survey from the European Commission, the economic confidence index fell sharply to 94.5 in March from 103.4 in February. However, the reading was above economists’ forecast of 91.6.
The EU said the data published today may be less accurate as the survey responses were collected between February 26 and March 23 in the context of the fight against the coronavirus.
There were considerable differences across countries as to when the fieldwork effectively stalled due to containment measures enacted to combat the spread of the virus, the EU added.
The collapse in confidence was particularly strong in services and retail trade.
The services confidence index plunged to -2.2 from 11.1 in February. The score was forecast to drop to -5.0. This record fall was fueled by managers’ tumbling demand expectations, assessments of the past business situation and past demand.
The indicator for retailers’ confidence slid to -12.4 from +1.1 in February. The stark decrease in retail trade confidence reflects an unprecedented fall in retailers’ assessment of the expected business situation.
Largely due to managers’ crashing production expectations, the industrial sentiment index came in at -10.8 versus -6.2 a month ago. The expected score was -12.6.
The consumer confidence indicator slid to -11.6, as initially estimated, from -6.6 in the previous month, mainly due to an exceptionally strong fall in expectations concerning the general economic situation.
The construction sentiment index dropped moderately to 2.7 in March from 5.4 a month ago.
At the same time, selling price expectations decreased markedly in all four business sectors, again led by services and retail trade.
Further, the business confidence index declined to -0.28 in March from -0.06 in the preceding month.