In February, the Economic Sentiment Indicator remained broadly unchanged, lingering at 97.4 (up by 0.2 points) in the European Union and at 95.9 (down by 0.1 point) in the eurozone. After 10 months of uninterrupted improvement, the rebound appears to have lost its momentum - though the indicator is now not far off its long-term average, especially in the EU.

The ESI is conducted by the European Commission's Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs.

Among the largest member states, France (-1.9 points) reported the biggest worsening in sentiment (especially in industry), followed by Italy (-1.7). In contrast, Poland (+4.2) reported the most significant increase, while improvements were less pronounced in Spain (+1.1), Germany (+0.9) and in The Netherlands (+0.9). Sentiment was broadly unchanged in the UK (+0.1). In Malta economic sentiment increased by 2.5 points from 95.4 to 97.9.

There was no clear pattern across sectors. Sentiment in industry increased by one point in the eurozone while it remained unchanged in the EU mainly due to falling confidence in the UK. Managers in industry were upbeat about their order books and production expectations, whereas the level of stocks was assessed with some caution.

Confidence in services improved by two points in both the EU and the eurozone, but in the retail sector it declined by two points in the EU and by four points in the eurozone, driven by a significant drop in Germany and Italy. Construction recovered two points in the EU, while remaining unchanged in the eurozone.

Confidence among consumers deteriorated in both the EU and the eurozone. Consumers' perception of the general economic outlook and increasing unemployment fears (especially in Spain and in Italy) contributed to the overall deterioration.

Confidence in financial services - which is not included in the ESI - is now back at its pre-crisis level. It remained unchanged in the EU and improved by two points in the eurozone, driven mainly by a positive assessment of the business situation and demand over the past three months.

The Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs regularly conducts harmonised surveys for different sectors of the economies in the European Union and in the applicant countries.

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