Europe gloom prompts Metro profit warning

BERLIN -- German-based retail group Metro AG has issued a profit warning, blaming the impact on consumer confidence of a recent rise in European unemployment and governments' redoubled efforts to cut budget deficits.

Metro said Friday that the worsening consumer environment has started to "materially affect" its business, particularly in southern and parts of eastern Europe.

It says it now expects pre-tax earnings to total around (EURO)2 billion ($2.6 billion) this year, rather than matching last year's figure of (EURO)2.37 billion as it previously forecast.

Unemployment across the 17 countries that use the euro hit 11.4 percent in July and August, the highest rate since the shared currency was introduced in 1999. In Spain and Greece, almost 25 percent are out of work.