Eurozone confidence nears 3 –year low

Fears that the debt crisis is afflicting core European countries as business confidence slumps

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The European Commission’s “economic sentiment indicator” has dropped to nearly its lowest in three years in July, amid an enduring sovereign debt crisis in southern Europe and fears that it might spread to the more economically sound northern core.

Business confidence dropped by 1.4 points between June and July to 89 in the EU and by a full two points in the euro are to 87.9 points. It is the fifth consecutive drop in the “economic sentiment indicator” leading to increased pressure on the ECB to take more action to boost the economy.

“The decline resulted from lower confidence in all sectors entering the calculation of the ESI,” according to a statement by the Commission. “However, a loss of confidence in the services sector was the main driver of the decrease in the EU, while the euro area saw the biggest declines in industry and among consumers.”

ECB President Mario Draghi vowed last week to do “whatever it takes” to protect the euro, encouraging rumours that the central bank is planning to restart its bond-buying programme. However, analysts have pointed out that the ECB is unlikely to act until governments have showed significant commitment to solving the banking and economic crisis.

The decline in business confidence was faster than expected, and has provided evidence that the southern European crisis is starting to affect the core countries.