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A measure of France's future economic activity rose for a second straight month in February, signaling a continuation of recovery in coming months, survey results from the Conference Board showed Friday.

The Conference Board Leading Index for France climbed 0.2 percent to 111 from 110.8 January, when it rose 0.3 percent. In the August to February period, the index increased 1.3 percent.

The coincident index of the survey, meanwhile, remained unchanged from January, when it gained 0.2 percent.

The strengths among the leading indicators have been slightly more widespread than the weaknesses over the past six months, the survey said.

"Taken together, the behavior of the composite indexes suggests that economic activity will likely continue expanding, and could even gradually accelerate in the near term," the think tank concluded.

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Spain's measure of future economic activity climbed at a faster rate in February, extending the rising trend into a sixth month, survey figures from the Conference Board showed Friday.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for Spain rose 0.6 percent to 102.8 from 102.2 in January, when the monthly gain was a revised 0.3 percent. The annual rate of increase was 4.4 percent and the index rose 1.2 percent in the previous six months.

The strengths among the leading indicators have become very widespread with all components advancing over the recent half year, the think tank said. Large positive contributions mainly came from the Spanish equity price index, job vacancies and the order books survey.

The coincident index, which measures current economic activity, rose 0.2 percent in February after a 0.1 percent gain in the previous month.

"Taken together, the recent behavior of the composite indexes suggests that economic activity will continue advancing, and the pace of growth may even pick up slightly in the near term," the Conference Board said.

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Mexico retail sales grew more-than-expected in February and at the fastest pace in four months, figures from the statistical office INEGI showed Friday.

Retail sales rose 5.6 percent year-on-year following a 4.7 percent growth in January. Economists had expected 4.5 percent gain.

The latest sales growth equaled the gain in October last year.

Wholesale sales grew 4 percent annually after a 2.2 percent rise in the previous month.

by RTT Staff Writer

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Belgium's business confidence rose slightly in April, extending the rising trend to a third month, but dampened expectations for a strong improvement, survey results from the National Bank of Belgium showed Friday.

The business confidence indicator climbed to -6.2 from -6.3 in March. Economists had expected the index to surge to -5.7.

Sentiment in the manufacturing sector improved for a third successive month with the relevant index rising to -7.3 from -8.1. The increase was largely driven by much more favorable assessments of total order books, while forecasts for demand and employment were revised downwards.

Morale strengthened in the business-related services sector as entrepreneurs retained a more positive opinion about the current level of activity. The index rose to 9 from 6.6. For the first time in four months, business expect activity to pick up over the next three months.

Business confidence weakened in the building industry, erasing the gain from last month. Downturn was witnessed not in in the trend in orders, but also in the overall assessment of order books and capacity utilization. The relevant index fell to -15.6 from -11.6.

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New orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods increased by much more than expected in the month of March, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Friday, although the jump was primarily due to strength in the volatile transportation sector.

The report said durable goods orders surged up by 4.0 percent in March after slumping by 1.4 percent in February. Economists had expected orders to edge up by just 0.5 percent.

Orders for transportation equipment showed a particularly strong upward move, jumping by 13.5 percent in March following a 1.8 percent drop in February.

The increase was led by orders for defense aircraft and parts, which skyrocketed by 112.8 percent. Orders for non-defense aircraft and parts also soared by 30.6 percent.

However, excluding the increase in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders actually fell by 0.2 percent in March compared to a 1.3 percent decrease in the previous month.

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New orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods increased by much more than expected in the month of March, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Friday, although the jump was primarily due to strength in the volatile transportation sector.

The report said durable goods orders surged up by 4.0 percent in March after slumping by 1.4 percent in February. Economists had expected orders to edge up by just 0.5 percent.

However, excluding a 13.5 percent jump in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders actually fell by 0.2 percent in March compared to a 1.3 percent drop in the previous month. Ex-transportation orders had been expected to rise by 0.3 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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Greek banks can avail emergency liquidity as long as they remain solvent, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Friday.

However, Draghi pointed out that higher yields caused by the lingering uncertainty were eroding the value of the collateral banks offer in return for loans.

"The higher the yields, the more collateral gets destroyed," Draghi said in a press conference in Riga, Latvia, where the Eurogroup met.

Early February, the ECB suspended the waiver extended to Greek public securities used as collateral by financial institutions for central bank loans. However, the bank later raised the support for Greek banks under the Emergency Liquidity Assistance scheme, which is costlier.

by RTT Staff Writer

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German business confidence strengthened for the sixth straight month to a 10-month high in April reflecting the continuing upswing in the economy, but firms turned less optimistic about the business outlook.

The business confidence index rose more-than-expected to 108.6 in April from 107.9 in March, the results of a survey by Munich-based Ifo Institute showed Friday.

This was the highest score since June 2014, when it stood at 109.4. The indicator was forecast to rise moderately to 108.4 in April.

Carsten Brzeski, an ING Bank NV economist, said German business optimism seems to be unstoppable, paving the road for an excellent year of growth. Germany remains the biggest beneficiary of the euro crisis and the European Central Bank's quantitative easing, Brzeski said.

Assessments of the current business situation improved considerably to the highest level since June 2014, the survey revealed. However, optimistic assessments of the business outlook were scaled back slightly.

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Slovenia's economic sentiment index dropped for the first time in five months in April, final figures from the Statistical office of the Republic of Slovenia showed Friday.

The seasonally adjusted economic sentiment index, which combines both business tendencies and consumer surveys, fell by 0.4 percentage points to 5.1 in April from 5.5 in the previous month. In February , the score was 4.1.

The decline in the economic sentiment index for April was mostly influenced by the fall of the confidence indicator in manufacturing, which dropped by 1.7 percentage points. Confidence indicator in the construction sector also registered a decline of 0.2 percentage points.

Meanwhile, confidence indicator in the retail sector strengthened notably to 21 in April from 9 in the in the prior month. The services confidence improved slightly to 18 from 17.

The consumer confidence indicator rose for the second straight month in April to -12 from -14 in the preceding month. In February, the reading was -17.

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Poland's retail sales increased notably in March, following a decline in the previous month, figures from the statistical office showed Friday.

Retail sales at current prices climbed 3.0 percent year-over-year in March, reversing a 1.3 percent decrease in February. In January, sales had risen 0.1 percent.

Sales of food, beverages and tobacco products jumped 11.3 percent in March from the previous year and that for textiles, clothing and footwear grew by 7.1 percent.

On a monthly basis, retail sales surged 17.4 percent in March, in contrast to a 2.0 percent fall in the prior month. It was the first increase in three months.

by RTT Staff Writer

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Poland's jobless rate declined as expected in March, after remaining stable in the previous month, figures from the statistical office showed Friday.

The registered jobless rate fell to 11.7 percent in March from 12.0 percent in February. The figure was also matched with economists's expectations.

In the same month of the previous year, the unemployment rate was 13.5 percent.

The number of unemployed people decreased to 1.86 million in March from 1.92 million in the preceding month. A year earlier, the jobless figure totaled 2.18 million.

by RTT Staff Writer

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Austria's production index declined in February from a year ago, figures from Statistics Austria showed Friday.

The production index, which combines industrial production and construction, fell a working-day-adjusted 0.2 percent year-over-year in February.

Production in the construction sector dropped 5.2 percent in February from the previous year, while industrial production grew by 0.7 percent.

Among sub-sectors, production in the energy sector decreased 0.1 percent and that for consumer durables slipped by 1.5 percent. Meanwhile, capital goods sector logged an increase of 1.3 percent.

Month-on-month, production index dipped 0.8 percent in February. Both construction and industrial output declined 3.6 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

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Czech consumer confidence weakened to its lowest level in five months in April, survey figures from the Czech Statistical Office showed Friday.

The consumer confidence index fell to 2.0 in April from 3.3 in the previous month. The latest reading was the lowest since November last year, when the score was 1.3.

The survey showed that consumers were for the next twelve months more afraid of a decrease in the overall economic situation. Worries about their financial standing as well as worries about increase in unemployment remained almost unchanged from the previous month.

Meanwhile, the business confidence indicator climbed by 0.3 points to 11.9 in April from 11.6 in March.

The overall composite indicator came in at 10.0 in April, unchanged from the previous month.

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The total value of orders received by the German construction industry increased in February from a year ago, figures from Destatis showed Friday.

Orders in the construction sector climbed a price-adjusted 0.7 percent year-over-year in February.

Demand in the civil engineering construction sector rose 3.2 percent in February from the previous year, while orders in the building construction sector fell by 1.2 percent.

In the January to February period, total new orders in the construction industry remained unchanged as compared to the same period last year.

by RTT Staff Writer

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Finland's producer prices continued to decline in March, but at a slower pace than in the previous month, figures from Statistics Finland showed Friday.

The producer price index for manufactured products dropped 0.8 percent year-over-year in March, after a 1.8 percent decrease in the previous month. Producer prices have been falling since August 2013.

In March, producer prices declined especially due to reductions in the prices of oil products, and chemical products from the prior year.

Domestic market producer prices slipped 1.2 percent annually in March and prices in the foreign market fell by 0.3 percent.

Export price index edged down 0.2 percent in March from a year ago and import price index decreased notably by 4.2 percent.

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Singapore's industrial production declined at a slower-expected pace in March, preliminary figures from the Economic Development Board showed Friday.

Industrial production fell 5.5 percent year-over-year in March, faster than February's 3.3 percent drop. Economists had expected a 5.8 percent decrease for the month. It was the second successive monthly fall.

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output slid 4.6 percent annually in March.

Among components, output of the electronics cluster declined 5.2 percent in March from a year ago and that for transport engineering cluster plunged by 15.6 percent.

The biomedical manufacturing cluster's output contracted 8.5 percent and output of the general manufacturing industries cluster went down by 0.8 percent.

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Business confidence from Germany is the major report due on Friday, headlining a light day for the European economic news.

At 3.00 am ET, Spain's producer prices report for March is due. Producer prices were down 1.6 percent year-on-year in February.

In the meantime, the Czech Statistical Office is slated to release business sentiment survey data for April. The indicator stood at 11.6 points in March.

Half an hour later, Statistics Netherlands is set to publish producer confidence data for April.

At 4.00 am ET, Germany's Ifo business confidence survey data is due. The business climate index is expected to rise to 108.4 in April from 107.9 in March.

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Japan's all industry activity increased unexpectedly in February, figures from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed Friday.

The all industry activity index climbed 0.1 percent month-on-month in February, in contrast to economists' expectations for a 1.0 percent decline.

In January, the index had risen 0.5 percent. It was revised down from a 1.9 percent increase. The index has been increasing since August last year.

The tertiary activity index went up 0.3 percent in February from the prior month. At the same time, both industrial production index and construction activity declined 3.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

On a yearly basis, the all industry activity index dropped at a slower pace of 1.2 percent in February, following a 1.7 percent fall in January. It was the eleventh successive monthly decrease.

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Malaysia's unemployment rate increased slightly in February, figures from the Department of Statistics showed Friday.

The jobless rate climbed to 3.2 percent in February form 3.1 percent at the start of the year. A year earlier, the unemployment rate was also 3.2 percent.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percent to 3.2 percent in February from 3.0 percent in the preceding month.

The number of unemployed people increased to 454,900 in February from 442,000 in January. A year ago, the jobless figure totaled 446,400.

The number of employed people came in at 13.66 million in February, up from 13.60 million in the previous month.

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British households perceive that the value of their home increased in April, a survey from Knight Frank and Markit Economic showed Friday.

The house price sentiment index, or HPSI, rose to 58.2 in March from 57.5 in the previous month. This marked the twenty-fifth consecutive month of the index remaining above 50.

A reading above 50 signals a rise in house prices, while a figure below 50 indicates a decline. The latest increase was only moderate as compared to March, suggesting that households believe prices continued to rise in spite of the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of next month's General Election.

The future HPSI, a measure of expectations on house prices, climbed for the second straight month to 70.2 in April from 69.6 in March.

Households in the East of England were most confident about price rises in April, with the corresponding index rising to 78.7 from 71.7 in the prior month.

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