Bloomberg News

German Consumer Confidence to Ease in April on Energy, GfK Says

March 27, 2012

German consumer confidence will decline for the first time in seven months in April as rising energy prices curb household spending power, GfK SE (GFK) said.

The Nuremberg-based market research company predicted today that its consumer-sentiment index, based on a survey of about 2,000 people, will slip to 5.9 from a 12-month high of 6 in March. Economists forecast an unchanged reading, according to the median of 26 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

A 40 percent jump in oil prices over the past six months is driving up energy costs and fueling inflation, threatening to slow the economic recovery. At the same time, advances by governments to solve the European debt crisis boosted German investor and business confidence this month.

“Record prices for petrol and diesel at German petrol pumps have clearly affected the mindset of consumers,” GfK said in a statement. “Despite the light drop, the indicator level still shows that consumer spending will remain one of the pillars of the German economy this year.”

GfK’s index of income expectations fell to 34.3 in March from 41.3 in February. A measure of consumers’ willingness to spend slipped to 38.6 from 39.2, while a gauge of economic optimism rose to 7.2 from 5.9.

Germany’s economy contracted 0.2 percent in the final quarter of 2011. While it “may still be moving sideways,” confidence indicators suggest “a rejuvenation of the economy in the early part of 2012” as unemployment at a two-decade low boosts household spending, the Bundesbank said last week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net


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