Euro zone consumer sentiment hits 20-month high in December

A visitor walks past an escalator at the Printemps department store in a shopping district in Paris

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Euro zone consumer confidence rose to a 20-month high in December, European Commission figures showed on Wednesday, suggesting the bloc’s economy will gather momentum into next year.

A flash estimate said euro zone consumer morale rose for a fourth consecutive month to -5.1 points, reaching its highest level since April 2015.

The figure beat market expectations of -6.0 points from economists polled by Reuters.

“This reinforces hopes that the euro zone will have seen some pick-up in (economic) …growth in the fourth quarter and is set to see a decent start to 2017,” said Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight.

The 19-country currency bloc grew 0.3 percent in both the second and third quarters.

In the European Union as a whole, consumer sentiment rose by 1.2 points to -4.6.

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(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by John Stonestreet)