LONDON (AP) -- Business and consumer confidence in the 16-nation euro zone increased again in August, official data showed Friday, suggesting the region is slowly recovering from one of the worst economic downturns in decades.
Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency, said its measure of business sentiment for the euro-zone rose to -2.21 points in August from -2.70 points the previous month.
Improvements were particularly strong for production expectations, orders booked and export orders.
The figure is still weak, however -- "even when compared to the previous historical lows of 1993" -- suggesting that industrial production remains subdued, Eurostat said.
France and Germany -- the euro-zone economy's twin engines -- technically emerged from recession in the second quarter, but analysts agree that any recovery in Europe will be slow and difficult. Unemployment is expected to rise over the coming year and governments' deficits are swelling.
Eurostat's separate Economic Sentiment Indicator, which monitors a wider range of sectors in the economy, saw its measure of consumer confidence in the euro zone also improve marginally, to -22 points in August from -23 points in July. For the 27-nation European Union, consumer confidence likewise edged up, to -20 from -21 points.
Despite steady improvements since the early months of this year, when fears of a financial and economic crash were strongest, both measures remain weak compared to historical averages.
The 16 countries in the euro zone are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.