There is a curious combination of expectations right now. The euro is rising, principally because of preoccupations about the US trade deficit and the associated sustainability issues, but also because there seem to be signs of a slightly better collective performance later in the year. This assessment may well be accurate. So what this means is that growth may still be slowing, but it may be about to pick up. Hence downward revisions for this year are quite compatible with mild optimism in the near term. Of course this situation will not be the same everywhere, and there are still no encouraging signs from Italy.
Economic growth in the euro region will fall short of official forecasts in 2005 as oil hovers near a record, consumer confidence stagnates and Italy struggles with recession, European finance ministers said.
Finance ministers are counting on growth in the 12-nation economy of only 1.3 percent, less than the 1.6 percent predicted by the European Commission in April, Luxembourg Prime and Finance Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said.