Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Belgian business confidence increased in February as manufacturers, boosted by export orders, offset declines in trade, construction and business- related services.
The confidence index for Belgium rose to minus 7.7 from minus 9.5 in January, the Brussels-based National Bank of Belgium said today in an e-mailed statement. Economists projected an increase to minus 8.5, the median of 15 forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.
“The upturn in the business climate hinged entirely on the manufacturing industry, where the improvement was particularly strong,” the central bank said in the statement. “In this branch of activity, entrepreneurs are expecting a sharp rise in demand. Furthermore, finished-product stock levels were considered to be significantly lower than last month.”
The gauge of manufacturers’ confidence improved to minus 8.4 from minus 13.6, the biggest jump since November 2009. Demand expectations rose to minus 6.1, the highest level since July, from minus 14.5, and an indicator of trends in export orders rose to minus 5.9 from minus 13.1.
A measure of expectations among executives in the business- related services industry dropped to minus 0.6 from 5.9, while confidence fell in the trade and building sectors.
Consumer confidence in the country dropped to the lowest in almost three years this month amid growing pessimism on the outlook for employment and the economy.
Solvay SA, the chemicals maker that bought Rhodia SA, said last week that it’s seeing demand recovering in units where it curbed output to clear inventory last quarter.
“We’re seeing signs that the first quarter will develop in a bit more favorable environment than the last part of 2011,” Solvay Deputy Chief Executive Officer Jean-Pierre Clamadieu told reporters in Brussels on Feb. 16.
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