A first estimate released by Eurostat indicates that quarter-on-quarter real GDP growth was 0.3% in the third quarter of 2002. This was towards the lower end of expectations.
Recent survey data suggest that overall sentiment in the euro area economy remains lacklustre, with business confidence improving somewhat but consumer confidence falling further. It is expected, therefore, that economic growth will remain subdued in the coming months.
The Eurosystem staff projections, which are presented in the December issue of the ECB´s Monthly Bulletin, see growth in euro area real GDP increasing from a range of 0.6 to 1.0% in 2002 to a range between 1.1 and 2.1% in 2003. In 2004 real GDP growth is projected to be in a range between 1.9 and 2.9%.
In line with available forecasts, the staff projections have been revised downwards since spring 2002. This disappointing picture mainly reflects the persistently high degree of uncertainty.
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