German consumer sentiment at highest in almost six years: GfK

Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:08am EDT
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Morale among German consumers rose to its highest level in almost six years heading into July thanks to a robust labor market and strong wage hikes, adding to signs that Europe's largest economy is slowly recovering after a weak start to 2013.

GfK market research group said on Wednesday its forward-looking consumer sentiment indicator, based on a survey of around 2,000 Germans, climbed to 6.8 going into July - its highest level since September 2007 - from 6.5 in June.

That was well above the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of economists for a reading of 6.5 and beat even the highest estimate for a reading of 6.7.

The improvement will be welcome news for the government, which is relying on domestic demand to prop up growth this year as foreign trade, the economy's traditional growth driver, suffers from the euro zone crisis and a slowdown in China.

It should also offer some hope to struggling euro zone states which are seeking to offload more of their goods on wealthy Germans as they seek to rebalance trade with Germany.

"Optimism appears to be unbroken," said Rolf Buerkl, a researcher for Nuremberg-based GfK.

"The income outlook of Germans has improved further from an already high level on account of the stable employment situation and good collective bargaining agreements, which have also benefited economic expectations," he added.

German workers have secured hefty wage hikes of up to 6.6 percent this year. That, combined with moderate inflation, has boosted shoppers' purchasing power at a time when the paltry interest rates being offered by banks give no incentive to save.


Pedestrians walk past a shop window with a sale sign, in Munich June 23, 2009. REUTERS/Michael Dalder