BERLIN Feb 27 German consumer morale rose for a
second consecutive month heading into March as a calming of the
euro zone crisis fills Germans with confidence that their
economy will pick up in the coming months, market research group
GfK said on Wednesday.
The forward-looking consumer sentiment indicator, based on a
survey of around 2,000 Germans, rose to 5.9 going into March
from 5.8 in February, boosted by an improvement in economic
expectations and a greater willingness to buy.
The reading was the highest since November and was in line
with a Reuters consensus forecast.
"At present, the European financial crisis is hardly a topic
in the media. Players on the financial markets are also acting
calmly," GfK said in a statement.
"As a result, Germans are taking a relatively relaxed view
of the future. They are anticipating that the German economy
will steadily improve in the coming months."
The GfK survey adds to the increasingly upbeat mood in
Germany, where other surveys have shown morale among German
businesses, investors and analysts improving in February.
Yet while sentiment surveys suggest the German economy will
return to solid growth in the first quarter after contracting by
0.6 percent in the last three months of 2012, there is so far
little hard data to back this up.
RETURN TO GROWTH
Most economists expect Europe's largest economy to grow
weakly this quarter and thereby escape the second consecutive
quarter of contraction which would technically put Germany in a
Ordinary Germans also expect to see a moderate recovery, GfK
said, adding that consumers' expectations for the economy were
at a turning point and had improved on the month in large part
due to the stable labour market.
German employment is at its highest level since the country
reunified more than 20 years ago.
Consumers' expectations for future income fell in February
but were still at a high level, with GfK saying Germans remained
optimistic overall about their financial situation due to the
stable labour market, moderate inflation and the prospect of
higher wages linked to a better economic outlook.
German unions are pushing for inflation-busting raises in
2013, confident politicians will back their demands in an
election year. Industrial union IG Metall said on Tuesday it was
seeking a 5.5 percent wage rise for workers in the key state of
Consumers became more willing to buy goods in February, with
the sub-index tracking this rising to 37.0, its highest level in
nearly a year, from 35.3 in January.
"Given that consumers continue to be sceptical about the
stability of the euro, they are still tending to invest their
money in higher value purchases rather than putting it in the
bank at historically low interest rates," GfK said.