Saturday 19 October 2019

German confidence rebounds in May

Sarah Marsh

German business morale improved far more than expected in May, rebounding after two months of falls and suggesting Europe's largest economy is slowly picking up speed after a sluggish first quarter.

The Munich-based Ifo think tank said yesterday its business climate index, based on a survey of some 7,000 firms, rose to 105.7 in May from 104.4 in April.

It prompted German bond futures to pare gains and sent the euro to a session high, though analysts said the recovery did not look strong enough to help drag Germany's euro zone neighbours out of recession.

Underscoring how private consumption in particular is fuelling domestic growth, a separate survey showed German consumers feeling more inclined to spend than at any point since September 2007.

"Business sentiment is recovering, consumer sentiment is picking up and Germany has been spared a double dip recession by the skin of its teeth," said David Brown at New View Economics.

"The German economy may be out of casualty ... but a return to fuller health still needs a lot more care."

The economy, which grew strongly during the early years of the eurozone crisis but lost momentum last year, has not yet featured prominently in campaigning for September's national election. But if conditions worsen significantly, it could become a headache for Chancellor Angela Merkel as she seeks a third term in office.

Her cabinet forecasts an expansion of 0.5pc this year, but quarterly growth was just 0.1pc in the first three months, Statistics Office data showed yesterday.

Robust private consumption compensated for declines in both exports and investment, the office said.

Ifo economist Klaus Wohlrabe expected the German economy to grow significantly more in Q2, saying construction activity, which was subdued during an extremely harsh winter, picked up "immensely" in May. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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