Ifo Economic Climate Index in the Euro Area has posted another contraction at the start of 1Q 2016 marking the third consecutive quarter of declines and reaching the lowest level since 1Q 2015. IFO Economic Climate Index (the headline index for the series) for the Euro area fell to 118.9 in 1Q 2016 from 122.0 in 4Q 2015. Activity signalled by the index, however, remains above the historical average at 107.5 an well above downturns-consistent average of 84.8.
The chart below shows index trends:
As highlighted in the chart above, EU Commission own sentiment index for economic activity is also pointing to weakening growth conditions in 1Q 2015. The EU Commission Sentiment Index was un a divergence to the Ifo index since the start of 2015.
Two core components of the Index also moderated in 1Q 2016. Present Situation sub-index fell from 153.8 for 4Q 2015 to 151.0 in 1Q 2016, marking the first quarter of contraction after four consecutive quarters of increases. The sub-index remains firmly ahead of the historical average of 127.5.
Perhaps the most worrying is the decline in Expectations for the next 6 months sub-index which fell from 103.3 in 4Q 2015 to 100.0 in 1Q 2016. This marks third consecutive quarter of declines in expectations and the index level currently is closer to the historical average of 95.8.
Overall, the gap between expectations forward and present conditions assessment has declined. Gap index (my own calculation) is now at 66.2 for 1Q 2016 against 67.2 in 4Q 2015. This suggests that weaker expectations are now starting to feed through to weaker present assessments.
A chart below illustrates the trends for sub-indices:
Per Ifo release: “Assessments of the current economic situation were most negative in Greece and Finland, but the current economic situation also remains strained in France, Italy and Cyprus. The situation was only slightly better in Spain, Portugal and Austria; but assessments for Austria were far less negative than last quarter. The sharpest recovery was seen in Ireland, where survey participants assessed the current economic situation as very good. In Germany the economic situation is considered to be good, although assessments were somewhat less favourable than last quarter.
The six-month economic outlook remains positive nearly everywhere. Economic expectations brightened in Austria, France, the Netherlands, Estonia and Latvia. In the other countries the outlook either remains unchanged, or is somewhat less positive. WES experts were only slight pessimistic about Greece, Portugal and Spain.”