Eurozone jobless rate at record highs
Unemployment in some parts of Europe is worse than during the Great Depression. Investors ignore the EU's financial woes at their own peril, say some analysts.
Yes, the economic landscape in the United States is still far from rosy. But if it's any consolation, consider the financially beleaguered eurozone -- the European Union countries that adopted the euro as their currency -- where unemployment hit a record high in March and where, in some countries, the jobless rate is worse than it was in the U.S. during the darkest years of the Great Depression.
Eurostat, the European Union's statistical office, reports the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the 17-nation eurozone was 12.1% in March, up from the previous high of 12% reached just a month earlier. Unemployment for the broader, 27-member European Union stood at 10.9% in March.
The office also reported eurozone inflation at 1.2% in April, down from 1.7% in March.
Among eurozone members, Austria, Germany and Luxembourg had the lowest jobless rates -- at 4.7%, 5.4% and 5.7%, respectively. At the other end of unemployment spectrum were Greece (27.2% in January), Spain (26.7% in March) and Portugal (17.5%).
By way of comparison, the U.S. unemployment rate in 1933, the Depression's low point, stood at 24.9% -- and that figure included workers ages 14 and older. And the nation's unemployment rate in March declined to 7.6% -- with April's jobless data due out on Friday.
Given eurozone inflation is at a three-year low and unemployment is at record highs, some analysts expect the European Central Bank may cut interest rates later this week.
"With inflation weaker than expected, unemployment rising yet again and signs of a longer recession, (a rate cut) would be a confidence boost," Sarah Hewin, a senior economist at Standard Chartered Bank, told Reuters.
ECB officials, however, continue their mantra that the worst of the European debt crisis has passed -- and that results from the region's painful austerity measures, labor reforms, fiscal consolidations and other regulatory attempts to stabilize the eurozone economy should kick in at some point.
"How soon growth will return will depend entirely on how soon Europe, especially the peripheral countries, are able to re-balance their economies," ECB governing council member George Provopoulos recently told Bloomberg. "And we have made good progress in that area, with Greece being a prime example."
So what does this mean for Wall Street and American investors? Commenting in a recent Seeking Alpha blog, Daniel Sckolnik, a senior analyst at Sabrient Systems, says the European recession should only deepen in the near future. And the Street, he notes, should be paying close attention in the meantime, "if it doesn't want to be caught off guard, as it seemed to be with the recent Cyprus banking debacle."
"There are simply too many crosscurrent events occurring at the moment to ignore from the eurozone," he adds, "the kinds of things that can suddenly coalesce into something akin to an economic rogue wave."
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
[BRIEFING.COM] Recent action saw the S&P 500 (+0.1%) slip to a session low, while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.1%) is now in the red.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq has trailed the S&P 500 since the start and has been pressured into negative territory by the continued underperformance of chipmaker stocks. The PHLX Semiconductor Index has widened its loss to 0.8% amid weakness in 29 of its 30 components.
Furthermore, the index has also been pressured by the biotech group, which has ... More
More Market News
Only one of these troubled companies is worth owning, says Jim Cramer.
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'