German Business Confidence Gains

Unexpected growth, despite debt crisis, reported in business climate index.

German business confidence unexpectedly rose to an eight-month high in March, suggesting Europe’s largest economy will return to growth even as the sovereign debt crisis curbs euro-area demand for its exports.

The Munich-based Ifo institute said today its business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, increased to 109.8 from a revised 109.7 in February. Economists forecast it would remain unchanged at the initial February reading of 109.6, according to the median of 44 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Expectations Climb

Ifo’s gauge of the current situation was unchanged at 117.4, while an index measuring executives’ expectations advanced to 102.7 from 102.4. Ifo’s retailing index jumped to 10.6 from 3.7, offsetting declines in gauges of manufacturing, construction and wholesaling.

In Asia, Singapore’s industrial production grew less than economists estimated in February as a slump in electronics output persisted. Manufacturing rose 12.1 percent from a year earlier after a revised 9.6 percent decline in January, the Economic Development Board said. The median of 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 16.2 percent gain.

In the U.S., Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is scheduled to speak at a conference in Arlington, Virginia, while Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser gives remarks at a conference in Paris. The Chicago Fed will release its national economic activity index for February later today.

Greece reached a debt-swap deal with its private creditors earlier this month and European leaders approved a second bailout package for the nation. Euro-region governments have also signed up to a tighter set of budget rules.

Euro-area growth will recover to 1.1 percent next year after a 0.1 percent contraction in 2012, ECB forecasts show. The German economy will expand 0.8 percent this year, according to the panel of economic experts who advise the government.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s largest maker of luxury vehicles, said on March 13 that it plans to surpass last year’s record profit. “We are off to a promising start,” with car sales in the first two months of the year at an all-time high, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said.

Continental AG, Europe’s second-largest tire maker, is sticking to its forecast for a 5 percent revenue increase this year even as signs mount that growth in China is slowing.

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