Euro-zone

Austria

Sector fortunes to shift

While the Delta variant has slowed economic activity in other parts of the world, this has not yet been the case in the euro-zone, and we are cautiously optimistic that the bloc will continue to grow. This will support the property market upturn, albeit offices and retail face structural challenges that will limit the rental recovery. Stronger rental prospects for industrial mean we think that the sector has the most scope for yield compression in the near term, though strong demand for prime assets should allow office yields to edge a bit lower too. However, further increases in yields will make some retail assets look increasingly attractive by year-end, prompting small yield falls in the next few years. The upshot is that industrial is expected to outperform over the next couple of years, but stronger capital value growth beyond 2022 will result in retail returns emerging as the strongest.

16 September 2021

Strong rebound and temporary rise in inflation

The euro-zone is on the way to an almost full recovery. We expect Germany to regain its pre-pandemic level of activity later this year and the tourist-dependent southern countries to do so next year. The Delta variant may lead to some voluntary social distancing or self-isolating and perhaps limited restrictions over the winter, but we doubt that it will derail the recovery. Inflation will rise further than most expect in the coming months due to rising input costs and supply bottlenecks. But with wage agreements and inflation expectations remaining low, it will drop back and stay lower than most expect over the medium term. The ECB is likely to step up its standard Asset Purchase Programme substantially when its emergency purchases end next March and leave its deposit rate at -0.5% until beyond 2025, which is much later than investors expect.

16 July 2021

Drop back in bond yields takes pressure off ECB

The fall in sovereign bond yields over the past week may make things a little easier for the ECB Governing Council when it meets on 10th June. We think it is likely to replace its commitment to make “significantly” higher bond purchases than in Q1 with a less specific commitment to keep financing conditions favourable. Next week we expect to learn that inflation got very close to 2% in May (data on Tuesday) while the final PMIs for May will show a big improvement in Spain and Italy (Thursday). Retail sales data for April (Friday) will probably fall in m/m terms as a lot of shops were closed in France. Finally, note that the Capital Economics London “office” will be closed on Monday.

28 May 2021
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France, Spain & Austria GDP (Q4)

Tough restrictions imposed in France and Austria last autumn to curb the spread of COVID-19 caused both countries’ GDP to fall in Q4. Spain’s laxer approach meant its economy actually grew. But for all three, 2020 was a catastrophic year, and the stricter measures currently being imposed in the face of rising infections bode ill for Q1.

Upward pressure on Vienna office yields still likely

Depressed investment activity and a weak rental outlook are set to put upward pressure on office yields. That said, given that prime property values have been slower to adjust than we had initially anticipated, there is a risk that the yield rise we forecast this year is pushed into next year.

22 October 2020

French, Spanish & Austrian GDP (Q1)

Lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus caused unprecedented quarterly contractions in GDP in France and Spain in Q1. And with the restrictions set to remained unchanged until mid-May and then be lifted only gradually, Q1’s falls will be dwarfed by the collapse in activity in Q2.

ECB to keep pushing on a string

We expect economic growth to remain sluggish this year as external demand picks up only slowly and domestic demand softens. Employment growth is slowing, which will cause household incomes and spending to weaken, and investment intentions have slumped. Germany’s industrial recession looks set to persist during the first half of the year, and its services sector to lose momentum. Meanwhile, Italy is still close to recession, but France and Spain should continue to outperform. We suspect that core inflation will drop back to around 1% over the coming months, prompting the ECB to ease policy in the second half of the year.

Eight quick points about the European elections

Projections of the results of the European elections confirm that pro-European parties will continue to have a clear majority in the European Parliament (EP) itself, so little will change at EU level. But there will be some fallout for national politics, notably in Italy and Greece.

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