Bloomberg News

Belgian Business Confidence Drops for Eighth Straight Month

November 24, 2011

(Updates with German confidence rising in third paragraph.)

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Belgian business confidence dropped for an eighth consecutive month in November, the longest stretch of declines since 1993, as demand forecasts among executives in the manufacturing and trade industries fell to a two-year low.

The confidence index for Belgium decreased to minus 12.2 from minus 10.4 in October, the National Bank of Belgium in Brussels said today in a statement. Economists had projected a smaller drop to minus 11, the median of 17 forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

Today’s report adds to evidence that Europe’s worsening debt crisis is spreading to the real economy and affecting consumer spending. Turmoil that began more than two years ago in Greece and snared Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain has engulfed Belgium, with government bond yields surging to the highest level in 11 years after six-party coalition talks ran aground this week amid differences over the 2012 budget makeup. German business confidence unexpectedly rose in November.

“Confidence among business leaders has thus sunk to its lowest level since October 2009,” the central bank said in the statement. “The business situation deteriorated again in the manufacturing industry, mainly under the impact of a sharp downward revision of demand forecasts.”

Government Bonds

Investors continued a selloff in Belgian government bonds today after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she remains opposed to common euro-area debt sales. The yield on Belgium’s 4.25 percent securities maturing in September 2021 climbed as much as 23 basis points to 5.71 percent by 3:58 p.m. local time. That’s the highest level since September 2000.

A gauge of demand expectations among executives in the trade industry tumbled to minus 27.3, the lowest level in more than two years, as their assessment of sales worsened for a fourth consecutive month. A sub-index of demand forecasts in the manufacturing industry fell to minus 17.5 from minus 9.6 and is now at the lowest level since July 2009.

Consumer confidence in Belgium, the euro region’s sixth- largest economy, plunged in November by the most since the collapse of Fortis in 2008, a report showed last week. A gauge of households’ assessments of the economic outlook dropped to the lowest level in 2 1/2 years.

Van de Velde NV, Belgium’s largest maker of luxury lingerie, on Nov. 17 lowered its forecast for revenue growth this year because of slower autumn sales at retailers. Roularta Media Group NV, Belgium’s biggest magazine publisher, said on Nov. 18 that advertising sales “trended downward” in October.

--Editor: Jones Hayden

To contact the reporter on this story: John Martens in Brussels at jmartens1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net


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