Consumer confidence edges up slightly
Consumer confidence in Germany has risen for the first time in three months amid burgeoning optimism that Europe's biggest economy has put the worst of the debt crisis behind it, a survey found on Tuesday.
Market research company GfK said its household confidence index was forecast to inch upwards to 5.8 points in February from 5.7 points in January, a statement said.
"It is the first time in three months since the index has gained slightly in value," GfK said.
The January figure was revised upwards from an original reading of 5.6 points.
GfK said that both consumers' income expectations and their willingness to spend picked up sharply and their economic expectations were also on the rise.
"The current calm on the financial markets is making Germans more confident at the start of this year," the statement said. "Despite a difficult fourth quarter, consumers expect the economy to pick up again during the course of the year."
The headline consumer confidence reading is based on responses from about 2,000 households on their expectations about pay and the economy as a whole in the coming months, as well as their willingness to spend money.
Other recent confidence indicators - such as the ZEW investor confidence index and the Ifo business climate index - have risen sharply recently on hopes that Europe's top economy will bounce back from a dip in growth at the end of last year and boost prospects for the eurozone as a whole.
"German consumers have taken some comfort from the latest calm on financial markets, as well as the improvement in business confidence," said ING Belgium economist Carsten Brzeski.
"If the latest improvement of business confidence really leads to the expected rebound of the economy, the labour market should remain almost unharmed, boding well for private consumption this year," the expert said.
The GfK reading "is another small piece of evidence that domestic demand should be an important growth driver in 2013," Brzeski concluded.
Annalisa Piazza at Newedge Strategy agreed. The rise in the GfK index "confirms the recent resilience in confidence," she said.
"Recent business confidence indicators support the idea of a modest recovery in activity in early 2013, most likely in the second quarter. Today's Gfk survey confirmed the relatively rosy picture for business expectations," she said.