Business leaders and consumers in the eurozone sent signals in January that the clouds of economic gloom are lifting slightly, marking the third-month running of firming optimism, data from the European Commission showed on Wednesday.
Confidence indicators are important pointers to how the economy will perform, and the latest figures suggested that optimism is gaining ground in the eurozone, pulled by Germany in particular and overall also by the construction sector.
The Commission's eurozone confidence index rose by 1.4 points from the December level to 89.2 points against a background of easing tensions over the debt crisis.
And the index for all 27 members of the European Union also rose by 1.4 points to 90.6 points.
In the eurozone, the sector of activity where confidence rose most was the construction industry for which the indicator gained 4.6 points. This reflected orders taken and expectations concerning the need for labour.
The reading for confidence expressed by consumers also rose by 2.4 points in January.
Confidence in the services sector rose by 1.0 point.
However, for industry and the retail sector, the indicators were flat.
Sentiment about the outlook for employment was less pessimistic in all sectors of activity than has been the case, both in the eurozone and in the European Union.
In the eurozone, confidence rose the most in Germany by 2.5 points, in the Netherlands by 1.0 point, and in Spain by 0.5 points.
In Italy, it was steady and in France, it slipped by 0.3 of a point.