Unemployment in the 17-nation euro zone hits a record high of in November, according to data released on Tuesday. The newly released data also revealed that Spain has the highest unemployment rate of nearly 27 percent in the European Union.
Eurostat data revealed that unemployment rate in the euro zone increased from 11.7 percent in October to 11.8 percent in November, leaving 18.8 million people without work.
For the last three years, Europe’s economy has been mostly driven by Germany. Powered by its strength of exports, Germany has been the most resilient to the crisis plaguing the common currency.
The data resealed on Tuesday, however, showed that German imports dropped by 3.7 percent in November. According to the Federal Statistics Office in Berlin, exports from Germany dropped by 3.4 percent, which contracted Germany’s trade surplus to €14.6 billion, or $19 billion.
There was significant drop in German factory orders in November as well. According to the Economy Ministry in Berlin, Orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, dropped 1.8 percent from October, when they jumped a revised 3.8 percent.
There was around 4 percent decline in German exports since May, 2013, said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING, who wrote in a research note on Tuesday “The November numbers are not a one-off but an extension of the current trend of weakening exports……Today’s data confirmed our view that exports should have turned from driver of growth into drag on growth.”
Another report from Eurostat revealed that retail sales fell by 2.6 percent in November 2012, as compared to a year earlier. However, on a month on month basis, retail sales saw a 0.1 percent increase.
According to some analysts, the central bank may try some new ways to rejuvenate the economy. Japan and Britain, the euro zone monetary authorities are now allowing banks to borrow whatever is required at the benchmark rate.
Due to the central bank’s measures to ensure stability in the euro zone, the economic sentiment index in the euro zone improved by 1.3 points to 87.0 in December. The European Commission reported, “Economic sentiment in the euro area improved among consumers and across all sectors, except retail trade.”
The Finance Minister of Japan Taro Aso said on Tuesday that Japan would buy bonds of the European Stability Mechanism, the euro zone bailout fund, as well as euro sovereign debt. Mr. Aso was quoted by the Nikkei newspaper as saying, “The financial stability of Europe will help the stability of foreign exchange rates, including the yen.”