BERLIN — The continual upward trend in Germany’s consumer confidence may be running out of steam.
Although its overall consumer climate indicator inched up 0.1 points this month to reach a value of 6.0, on par with March 2011, the Nuremberg-based market research firm GfK is now predicting that value will slip to 5.9 in April, thus breaking consistent gains over the last six months.
According to the GfK German Consumer Climate report for March 2012, released today, economic expectations in Europe’s largest consumer market improved this month, but remained below the corresponding value in 2011. This suggests that, “the German economy will be significantly less dynamic in 2012 than in the prior year,” the report notes.
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Affected by gasoline price hikes, income expectations took the biggest dip, virtually negating the gains of the previous month, but nonetheless “remain at a comparably good level.”
Germany’s stable labor market, however, helped keep German consumers in the mood to buy. The indicator fell a nominal 0.6 points, but remains above the previous year’s value.
GfK underscored the general stability of the German consumer market, and continues to predict that consumption in 2012 will increase, on average, by 1 percent in real terms.
“The domestic economy will therefore play a considerable role in ensuring that the German economy does not fall into recession this year,” GfK concluded.