|Anemic retail sales growth in Europe
Euro zone and EU retail sales edged up in November after a sharp fall in October as consumer confidence firmed slightly ahead of Christmas, official data showed.
Retail sales by volume in the 17-state euro zone edged up a mere 0.1 percent in November and 0.2 percent in the wider 27-state European Union after tumbling 0.7 percent in both areas in October, the Eurostat statistics agency said, AFP reports.
Compared with the levels a year earlier, however, retail sales were down 2.6 percent in the euro zone and off 1.3 percent in the EU, it added.
The biggest monthly increases were in Finland, up 2.2 percent, with Romania adding 1.9 percent and Latvia 1.4 percent while Luxembourg posted the sharpest fall, at 1.5 percent, followed by Ireland and Portugal, both down 1.3 percent.
Compared with November 2011, Latvia reported the biggest increase, of 8.7 percent, followed by Belgium on 4.5 percent and Estonia 4.3 percent while Spain suffered the worst drop, at 9.6 percent.
Separately, the European Commission said its overall Economic Sentiment Indicator, a broad measure of consumer and business confidence, was up 1.3 points to 87 in the eurozone in December and was up 0.3 points at 88.4 in the EU, compared with a baseline of 100 points.
Among the seven largest member states, sentiment improved 2.0 points in Italy and 1.0 point in Germany, the bloc's biggest economy.
France showed a gain of 0.4 points and Spain 0.3 points but Britain was down sharply, dropping 3.5 points as the economy slumped.