Consumer confidence across the EU and euro area has improved for the third month in a row, according to the latest Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) from the European Commission.

The ESI increased by 3.2 points in the EU and by 3.1 points in the euro area, to 71.1 and 73.3 respectively. However, despite this continued rise, the indicator still stands below the lows reached in the last major economic dip for the region, towards the end of 1992.

The increase in the ESI resulted from an improvement in sentiment in services and among consumers, the European Commission said.

The majority of member states registered an improvement, the ESI showed. Among the largest member states, France and Germany (+3.2 points) and the UK (+2.7) recorded significant increases in sentiment, while the rise was less marked in Poland (+2.0), Spain, the Netherlands (+1.5) and Italy (+1.1).

The increase observed at sector and country level was mainly driven by improving expectations, the Commission said, as the main economic actors appear to be gaining confidence that the crisis is easing.

Employment expectations picked up in industry and services and consumers’ unemployment expectations decreased.

There was more positive news from the financial services confidence indicator, which is not included in the ESI, which moved up by 4 points in both the EU and the euro area.