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Eurozone consumer confidence improves but slightly lower than expected

Consumer confidence in the single-currency euro area rose to negative 7.2 in March from negative 7.4 in February, according to flash estimates released by the European Commission.

The improvement in consumer confidence came just short of analyst expectations. The Econoday consensus forecast was negative 7.1.

In the wider EU, consumer confidence increased to negative 7.1 from negative 7.2.

The European Commission said both the eurozone and EU-wide indicators remain above their long-term averages of negative 11.3 and negative 10.5, respectively.

The weaker-than-expected increase in consumer confidence comes amid persisting concerns over global growth and heightened uncertainty over Brexit, with the U.K. still due to leave the EU with or without a withdrawal agreement on March 29.