(Adds analyst comments)
BERLIN Jan 29 German consumer morale rose for
the first time in four months heading into February as a lull in
the euro zone storm boosted optimism, market research group GfK
said on Tuesday.
The forward-looking consumer sentiment indicator, based on a
survey of around 2,000 Germans, rose to 5.8 going into February
from an upwardly revised 5.7 in January, boosted by higher
income expectations and a greater willingness to make purchases.
"While many consumers in peripheral Eurozone countries are
currently eating up their savings to make ends meet, Germans are
still in a shopping mood," said ING economist Carsten Brzeski.
The reading released on Tuesday beat the consensus forecast
in a Reuters poll of 29 economists for a rise to 5.7 in February
from January's originally reported 5.6.
"The present calm situation on the financial markets has
evidently caused German consumers to be more confident again at
the start of 2013," GfK said in a statement.
"Currently there are few negative reports relating to the
sovereign debt crisis in the press so Germans are once again
focusing on the generally pleasing domestic state of affairs."
The GfK survey is the latest in a string of upbeat sentiment
surveys which have shown the mood among German businesses,
investors and analysts improving in January.
Consumers are increasingly prepared to splash out on
high-value goods as the labour market remains stable and low
interest rates give them little incentive to save, GfK said.
The jobless rate remains close to a post-reunification low
in Germany, though the number of Germans out of work rose for a
ninth month running in December. That gives consumers the
planning security they need to buy big-ticket items, GfK said.
The survey provides hope to German retailers who suffered at
the end of last year, with retailer Douglas Holding AG
saying Christmas sales fell short of its expectations and Metro
complaining of a slow start to Christmas trading
before this picked up in the final days of the season.
The improvement in shoppers' mood is also a boon to
expectations that domestic demand will help prop up growth in
Germany, traditionally an export-driven economy, this year.
"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," said Brzeski.
The German government expects foreign trade to weigh on
growth this year as the euro zone weakens demand for
high-quality products, though it sees a stable job market,
rising wages and moderate inflation boosting private
Expectations for future earnings rose sharply to their
highest level in six months as consumers foresee the labour
market situation remaining stable and inflation continuing to be
moderate, boosting their purchasing power.
German unions which secured hefty wage hikes last year are
pushing for above-inflation raises this year even as the economy
teeters on the brink of recession, confident that politicians
will back their demands in an election year.
Germany's economy weathered the first two years of the euro
zone crisis relatively well, growing by a post-reunification
record of 4.2 percent in 2010 and by 3 percent in 2011 but
growth slowed to just 0.7 percent last year and is seen
weakening to 0.4 percent this year.
Recent data has shown export, imports and orders sliding,
though output has risen modestly and the private sector has
expanded. Germans' economic expectations improved for the fourth
time in five months, which GfK said marked the end of the
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(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Ron Askew)