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Drop in German business morale points to longer recession

Published Jun 26, 2023 04:31AM ET Updated Jun 26, 2023 06:56AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker at German manufacturer of silos and liquid tankers, Feldbinder Special Vehicles, moves rolls of aluminium at the company's plant in Winsen, Germany, July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo
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BERLIN (Reuters) -German business morale worsened for the second consecutive month in June, a survey showed on Monday, indicating that Europe's largest economy faces an uphill battle to shake off recession.

The Ifo institute said its business climate index fell to 88.5 this month from 91.5 in May. A Reuters poll of analysts had predicted a smaller drop to 90.7 in June.

"Sentiment in the German economy has clouded over noticeably," Ifo's president Clemens Fuest said.

China's weaker than hoped for economic performance since its reopening from tight COVID-19 lockdowns, a looming U.S. recession and ongoing monetary policy tightening seem to be weighing on German company sentiment, said Carsten Brzeski, global head of macro at ING.

"What is clear is that the optimism at the start of the year seems to have given way to more of a sense of reality," Brzeski said.

Indeed, expectations were much more pessimistic, with the related Ifo index falling to 83.6 from May's 88.3. Companies also assessed their current situation more poorly, with that index falling to 93.7 from 94.8.

The economy faces the prospect of a longer recession as domestic demand and the expectations of exporters have both weakened, Klaus Wohlrabe, head of Ifo surveys, told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

"The probability has increased that gross domestic product will also shrink in the second quarter," he said.


By contrast, the Bundesbank said on Monday in its monthly report that the recession in Germany is expected to end in spring, with gross domestic product rising slightly in the second quarter.

"Private consumption should bottom out," experts from the German central bank wrote in the report. "Thanks to strongly rising wages, the real disposable incomes of private households are stabilising despite inflation remaining very high."

The decline in the Ifo is in line with the drop in the flash purchasing managers index, published on Friday. There was a combination of a slower rise in service sector business activity and a deepening downturn in manufacturing output, that report showed.

In the Ifo survey, manufacturing posted the largest deterioration on the month. "It is clear that industry remains under pressure from waning demand, in line with Friday's PMIs which saw industry in the euro zone's biggest economy deep in contractionary territory amid rapidly shrinking backlogs and destocking," said Mateusz Urban, senior economist at Oxford Economics.

The Bundesbank, however, said the spring quarter uptick would be supported by German industry's ability to weather a continued decline in demand thanks to lower energy prices, easing of supply bottlenecks and full order books.

Economists were less optimistic.

"The slump in the German Ifo, together with the drop in the PMIs, suggests that German GDP probably contracted for the third quarter in a row in the second quarter," said Franziska Palmas, senior Europe economist at Capital Economics. The economic research firm expects the economy to remain in recession throughout 2023.

"We feel confirmed in our forecast that the German economy will shrink again in the second half of the year," Commerzbank (ETR:CBKG)'s chief economist Joerg Kraemer said.

Drop in German business morale points to longer recession

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jason xx
jason xx Jun 26, 2023 6:58AM ET
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no it doesn't it is a survey
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