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The European Central Bank’s governing council expressed concern at the speed of the jabs scheme at their latest meeting, according to recently released minutes. They said the Eurozone economy faces further uncertainty because of questions over when lockdown restrictions will be lifted across the EU’s single currency bloc. “Reference was made to the slow pace of vaccinations compared with other parts of the world,” according to the minutes released on Thursday.
ECB chiefs questioned whether restrictive measures would be eased as early as the second quarter and said “weakness in activity might continue well into the second quarter and beyond”.
But they praised the global economy, insisting countries and regions with more successful vaccination schemes have made the outlook for euro area growth “become more balanced”.
So far, EU nations have only managed to administer 19 jabs per 100 people across the bloc.
In contrast, Britain has delivered almost 40 million doses – at a rate of 55 per 100 people.
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Carsten Brzeski, global head of macro at ING, said the ECB minutes “illustrate that there must have been a lively debate” about the Eurozone’s future.
“With some ECB members pointing to more positive factors for growth and others to more negative factors,” he added.
During their meeting, ECB chiefs said the US stimulus package would likely provide a boost to the global and Eurozone economies.
But they warned it was unclear what implications President Joe Biden’s recovery plans would have on the euro-dollar exchange rate.
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The meetings revealed concern was expressed over the “true situation of the business and household sectors” across the EU’s single currency bloc when government support schemes are phased out.
“There was still some risk that the unemployment rate would turn out to be higher than expected” if jobs are not protecting going forward,” the minutes said.
While the Eurozone is expected to lag behind other global economies, Britain’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic appeared to surge.
Thanks to a highly successful vaccines rollout, the UK’s services industry returned to growth last months after months of uncertainty.
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The IHS Market purchasing managers index for services, which is a solid measure of economic growth, was positive for the first time since October.
Tim Moore, Economics Director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey, said: “UK service providers were back in expansion mode in March as confidence in the roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions provided a strong uplift to new orders.
“Total business activity increased at the fastest rate since August 2020 and this return to growth ended a four-month sequence of decline.”
He added: “Forward bookings for consumer services and rising optimism about recovery prospects resulted in extra staff hiring across the service economy for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
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“Business optimism improved for the fifth month running in March and was the highest since December 2006.”
“Around two-thirds of the survey panel forecast an increase in output during the year ahead, which reflected signs of pent up demand and a boost to growth projections from the successful UK vaccine rollout.”
The PMI index places anything over 50 as market growth, while anything below is deemed a contraction.
Britain scored 56.8, compare to 49.6 for the Eurozone.