Slim majority of German economic sectors optimistic heading into 2014 - survey
BERLIN Dec 26 (Reuters) - A slim majority of sectors of the German economy are feeling optimistic as they head into 2014 thanks to a robust domestic economy and signs the euro zone will pick up after emerging from recession this year, a survey showed on Thursday.
Of 48 industry associations polled by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW), 26 said firms in their sector were more upbeat at the end of the year than they were 12 months ago. Seven sectors including the mining, petroleum, water and energy and cooperative bank industries were more downbeat.
Asked about the future, the associations were more positive, with 34 out of 48 branches expecting an increase in production or sales next year compared with 2013.
Manufacturers and builders, both of which had a weak start to 2013, were among the sectors feeling upbeat.
"German business has not looked to the future this positively for a long time," said Michael Huether, head of IW.
"But the result would certainly have been even better were it not for the uncertainty that the deficient coalition treaty brings with it for companies."
German industry representatives have widely criticised the coalition deal struck between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats. They say it rows back on economic reforms introduced a decade ago that have been credited with turning the former "Sick Man of Europe" into its powerhouse.
The deal includes a nationwide minimum wage of 8.50 euros per hour to be phased in by 2017, a chance to retire at the age of 63 for those who have worked for 45 years, and higher pensions for mothers whose children were born before 1992.
In interviews conducted by Reuters the heads of the BDI industry association, the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) and the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH) also said the government's plans were dampening optimism, though they were upbeat overall about the outlook for 2014.
"Industry is well positioned. The economic situation is robust and the global economy is continuing on its path of growth," said the BDI's Ulrich Grillo.
The German economy, a bastion of growth during the early years of the euro zone crisis, slowed last year and had a subdued start to 2013. It bounced back in the second quarter and growth was slower but still solid in the third. Economists expect a similar performance between October and December.
Recent sentiment surveys have shown business, investor and consumer morale brightening but backward-looking "hard" data has generally been more muted, with the latest industrial figures showing orders and output fell in October. (Reporting by Michelle Martin and Gernot Heller; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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