(Adds economist comment)
BRUSSELS Oct 23 Belgian business sentiment, a
bellwether for the euro zone, ended three months of improvement
in October, as confidence among managers in manufacturing and
The business confidence index, often referred to as the
leading indicator, dropped to -7.7 from -6.7 in September after
three consecutive months of increase, the central Bank said on
A Reuters poll of 14 economists had produced a median
forecast of -6.0, with a range from -7.0 to -5.0.
The deterioration in manufacturing was mainly due to high
levels of inventories and a less favourable outlook for order
books. In construction, the decline was chiefly due to gloomier
Steven Vanneste, economist at BNP Paribas Fortis, said the
figures were only a dip in an otherwise improving trend after
strong growth in business sentiment over the past months.
"If you look at manufacturing, the evolution of order books
has deteriorated but demand expectations are rising further," he
The trade component, largely reflecting retail demand, rose
for the fifth straight month, based on an expected growth of
orders placed with suppliers.
The Belgian number comes two days before the closely watched
German Ifo business climate index, which is expected to push to
108.0 points, slightly beyond September's 17-month high of
Belgian consumer sentiment, released last Friday, rose to
its highest level since July 2011 in October.
Belgium's economy, which grew by 0.2 pct in the second
quarter compared to the first, is expected to stagnate for the
whole of 2013 and grow by about 1 percent in 2014.
Belgium, the euro zone's sixth largest economy and one of
its most open, exports a large number of semi-finished products
to the region's most powerful economy, Germany, whose exports
have pulled it clear of the stagnation hitting its neighbours.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Philip Blenkinsop)