German consumers show post-crisis optimism: survey

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German consumers are in their most confident mood for three years, since just before the economic crisis, a survey suggested on Tuesday as the economy here, the biggest in Europe, steams ahead.

Unemployment appears to be heading downwards.

The index for November, drawn up by the GfK market research group, stabilised at 4.9 points, the same level as in October. A GfK spokeswoman told AFP the survey aimed to predict confidence levels for the coming month.

For the fifth month running, consumers had a rosier view of the economy in the future, showing they "continue to believe in a considerable economic upswing over the next months," GfK said.

"In connection with considerable easing on the labour market, the good consumer sentiment will result in further stabilization of domestic demand," added the group.

"The latest sideways movement in the GfK headline figure looks more like a breather to us than a peak," UniCredit economist Andreas Rees said.

Last week, the German government raised sharply its economic forecasts, projecting growth of 3.4 percent this year and 1.8 percent in 2011.

Germany, the world's second-biggest exporter after China, suffered more than most from the global downturn as demand for its goods dropped sharply. The German economy contracted by 4.7 percent in 2009.

"For German private consumption, the next months will be the moments of truth," ING senior economist Carsten Brzeski commented.

"The fundamentals for a further pick-up in consumption have hardly been better over the last ten years," he said.

With unemployment falling, even Germany's liberal economy minister has called for higher wages, the economist noted.

© 2010 AFP

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