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Eurozone Economic Sentiment Eases For Ninth Month

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Eurozone's economic sentiment deteriorated at a faster than expected pace in March, and for the ninth month in row, led by the weakening morale in industry and services.

The economic sentiment index fell to 105.5 from 106.2 in February, survey data from the European Commission showed on Thursday. Economists had expected a score of 105.9.

The industrial confidence index dropped to -1.7 from -0.4, and the services measure fell to 11.3 from 12.1. Economists had forecast readings of -0.5 and 12, respectively.

The consumer confidence index improved to -7.2 from -7.4, in line with its flash estimate.

Sentiment modestly improved in the retail and construction sectors, while the morale surged in the financial services industry.

Separately, the European Commission reported that the business climate indicator for the euro area decreased to 0.53 in March from 0.69 in February. Economists had expected the index to remain steady.

Managers' views of the past production, their production expectations, and their assessments of both overall and export order books declined significantly, while their appraisal of the stocks of finished products worsened only slightly, the report added.

"The decline in the Economic sentiment indicator shows that business confidence continues to suffer and that the start of a growth recovery hasn't really happened so far," ING economist Bert Colijn said.

"Q1 hasn't seen the recovery that was expected, but the possibility that Q2 will finally show some recovery signs still remains alive," he added.

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