Economic confidence in the eurozone increased for
a third consecutive month in July, a key survey showed Tuesday.
The European Commission's closely watched Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) rose to 92.5 points, up from 91.3 points in June.
The increase was in line with analysts' expectations.
Jennifer McKeown of the Capital Economics research group said it is "adding to evidence that economic conditions in the eurozone are very gradually starting to improve."
Leading the way were sentiment upticks in the eurozone's four largest economies - Germany (+0.7), France (+1.2), Italy (+2.9) and Spain (+1.2).
Improved confidence among consumers and managers in industry, services and retail trade drove the rise in ESI, the European Union's executive said, but confidence dropped in the construction sector.
Consumer confidence posted its eighth consecutive increase, with the commission attributing it to "further easing unemployment expectations and better savings expectations" over the next year.
"Consumers' views on the future financial situation of their households and the future general economic situation also brightened somewhat," it said.
Separate data released Tuesday by the EU's statistics agency, Eurostat, showed that the household saving rate in the eurozone increased to 13.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year, up from 12.4 per cent in the previous quarter.
Household income also rose by 0.7 per cent in nominal terms during the first quarter.
The eurozone business investment rate, meanwhile, dropped to 18.8 per cent - down from 19.5 per cent in the previous quarter - according to Eurostat.
The Business Climate Indicator, another eurozone index compiled by the commission, posted an increase in July, rising by 0.14 points to -0.53.
The ESI also jumped in July in the wider 27-member EU, from 92.6 to 95.0 points.
The release of the ESI is part of the buildup to Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank, which may be under pressure to outline more details on its plans to keep interest rates at record low levels for an extended period.
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