BERLIN Feb 12 A German business group played
down worries that a strong euro is hurting the country's
exports, saying on Tuesday that firms are modestly more upbeat
about selling abroad than they were last autumn.
"The economy is picking up at the beginning of 2013," the
German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) said, adding
that its survey of around 28,000 companies suggested worries
about the euro debt crisis were lifting.
"After continually worsening over the course of 2012, the
business situation of firms is stabilising at what is still a
high level. The interim crisis mood has calmed."
Germany has rebuffed pressure from France for a medium-term
target for the euro's value as central banks in other countries,
particularly Japan, print money to prop up their economies.
Alexander Schumann, DIHK's chief economist, told a news
conference: "We see no direct dangers for German exports for the
He noted that the euro zone still accounted for around 40
percent of German shipments abroad and said a stronger euro also
helps German firms by making imports of energy and raw materials
Even so, a greater euro appreciation could hurt Germany by
snuffing out tentative signs of recovery in the weaker euro zone
countries, Schumann added.
Group of Seven nations reiterated their commitment on
Tuesday to market-determined exchange rates and said fiscal and
monetary policies must not be directed at devaluing currencies.
The DIKH survey, taken between mid-December and mid-January,
tallies with the influential Ifo index, which has risen for the
last three months and in January showed morale among German
businesses rising to its highest in more than half a year.
The mood among intermediate and capital goods producers
worsened as investment activity at home and abroad suffered, the
DIHK said, but private consumption at home was fairly robust.
The DIHK said companies were becoming less sceptical about
the months ahead, especially due to some success in dealing with
the euro zone crisis. But more than half of firms expected
setbacks in domestic demand as well as additional burdens in the
form of higher energy and raw material prices.
The DIHK said a decline in investments had stopped: "Gradual
improvements in the euro zone stabilise the planning horizon for
companies across all industries."
Lower investment levels likely contributed to a 0.5 percent
contraction in the German economy in the fourth quarter. Most
economists nonetheless see Europe's economic powerhouse avoiding
a recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction,
by growing moderately in the first quarter.
The DIHK said German companies still planned to take on new
workers but there would be no big hiring spree while the euro
Data released this month has shown a slight upturn in the
German economy, with modest increases in exports, industrial
orders and output while sentiment surveys have improved, the
private sector has expanded and unemployment has fallen.
The DIHK said 29 percent of participants in the survey were
from industry, another 24 percent from commerce, a further 41
percent from services and the remaining 6 percent from