Economic sentiment in Croatia stabilised in March after decreasing in the first two months of 2016, while in the European Union it deteriorated markedly, according to a monthly European Commission survey, published on Wednesday.

The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for Croatia remained broadly unchanged from February, dropping 0.1 points to 118.4 points. The largest decrease was recorded in the retail sector, whose corresponding indicator fell by 4.4 points to 7.8 points. Consumer confidence dropped by 0.8 points to -16.9 points, services confidence fell by 0.6 points to 17.6 points, and industry confidence declined by 0.5 points to 1.7 points.  An improvement was registered only in the construction sector, whose indicator increased by 1.4 points to -12.5 points.

At the EU level, compared with February, economic sentiment in March declined by 0.7 points to 104.6 points. The largest decreases were recorded in the construction sector, whose corresponding indicator fell by 1.9 points, and the services sector, whose indicator declined by 1.7 points. Consumer confidence decreased by 0.7 points, while industry confidence rose by 0.4 points. Retail trade confidence remained broadly unchanged (+0.1 points).

Among the leading non-euro economies, the ESI in Poland increased by a marginal 0.2 points, while in the United Kingdom it remained largely unchanged.

In the euro area, the ESI also dropped, by 0.9 points to 103 points. Sentiment decreased in all areas except in retail trade. The largest decrease was recorded in the construction sector, whose indicator fell by 3.2 points. Services confidence dropped by 1.2 points and consumer confidence by 0.9 points. Industrial confidence remained broadly unchanged from February, while retail trade confidence increased by 0.4 points.

Among the leading euro-area economies, the largest decreases in economic sentiment were recorded in Italy and France, by 2.4 points and 1.8 points respectively. Marked decreases were also registered in the Netherlands (by 0.9 points) and Spain (by 0.4 points), while sentiment in Germany remained broadly unchanged.

In a separate report, the Commission said that the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area in March remained largely stable (+0.02 points to +0.11). While managers' appraisals of past production improved, the stocks of finished products and export order books were assessed more negatively. Production expectations and views on total order books remained virtually unchanged.

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