The European Commission has found that confidence over Europe's economic recovery improved further in February, another sign that the impact from the government debt crisis has abated, for now at least.
The EU's executive branch said Thursday that its economic sentiment indicator spiked by a point in the eurozone to 107.8, its highest level for nearly three and a half years.
However, much of the work done in the survey was conducted before this week's sharp rise in oil prices as Libya became the third North African country to witness a huge popular uprising against a longtime regime.
Improvements in the survey were witnessed across the eurozone, which is now made up of 17 countries following Estonia's adoption of the currency at the start of the year. Even the most indebted countries, such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, saw confidence pick up during the month.
Much of the rebound in confidence during the month was due to the services sector.
So far, the eurozone's recovery from recession has been primarily based on a big industrial pickup, particularly in Germany, Europe's biggest economy. Figures from Germany's Federal Statistics Office confirmed as much, showing that exports drove the country's 0.4 percent economic growth during the fourth quarter of 2010. The decline from the previous quarter's 0.7 percent rate was partly due to the heavy snow that gripped the country during December.
For the recovery to become more self-sustaining, the hope is that other segments of the economy, notably the services sector, will start coming back to life.
Also important is that consumers find the confidence to spend. The evidence from the survey is that may be happening. The consumer confidence measure rebounded in February from January's five-month low.
The Commission found that its economic sentiment indicator for the 27-country EU as a whole, which includes non-euro countries like Britain and Poland, rose by 1.4 points in February to 107.2.
The Commission said its main measure of confidence is now above its long-term average in six out of the seven largest member states, with Spain catching up.
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