By Sakari Suoninen and Eva Taylor
MANNHEIM, Germany Feb 18 German analyst and
investor sentiment fell in February due to concerns that the
economic upturn in the United States could lose steam and
worries about emerging market economies' prospects in the
medium-term, a survey showed on Tuesday.
The Mannheim-based ZEW economic think tank's monthly poll of
economic sentiment dropped to 55.7 from 61.7 in January, falling
well short of the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of
analysts for it to hold steady. It was the lowest reading since
But ZEW President Clemens Fuest said the drop "must not be
overstated" given that the majority of survey participants were
still upbeat and economists also warned against reading too much
into the index's drop.
"Although the ZEW index has a good track record of
predicting economic turning points, the latest decline does not
point to a change in direction of the economic trajectory yet,"
said Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank.
"The negative factors should remain temporary. The balanced
retreat of optimism across regions shows that emerging market
turbulences in January hurt optimism," he added.
Reasons for the decline included uncertainty caused by
recent U.S. unemployment data and concern about the prospects
for China, said ZEW. Another factor was a decision by Germany's
Constitutional Court to refer the European Central Bank's
bond-buying programme to the European Court of Justice, it said.
Investors' assessment of current conditions was, however, a
bright spot in the survey, with a separate gauge measuring this
increasing to 50.0 points from 41.2 in January and beating the
consensus forecast in a Reuters poll for a reading of 44.0.
Other recent sentiment indicators have painted a rosy
picture of the German economy, with consumers feeling their most
upbeat in more than six years and business morale rising.
But some economists have warned that the German economy is
not performing as well as such surveys would suggest and recent
hard data has been somewhat subdued, with exports, industrial
output and orders all falling in December.
The German economy, a growth locomotive in the early years
of the euro crisis, has slowed in the last two years as exports
weakened and some firms delayed investments but the government
expects it to grow by 1.8 percent this year - more than four
times as strongly as in 2013 thanks to domestic demand.
The ZEW survey showed investors were more pessimistic about
the outlook for the euro zone.
The index was based on a survey of 251 analysts and
investors and was conducted between Feb. 3 and Feb 17, ZEW said.