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Economy

German business climate up as global outlook brightens

Germany's Ifo business climate index edged up in November, surprising analysts who had expected the eurozone recession to weigh heavier on German business. Good news from the US and China seemed to boost confidence here.

The closely-watched barometer of German business confidence climbed from 100 points in October to 101.4 points in November, ending six consecutive months of falling readings, the Munich-based Ifo research group said Friday.

"The German economy is struggling hard against the effects of the eurozone crisis," Ifo President Hans-Werner Sinn told a news conference.

Sinn added that perceptions about current business improved slightly by 0.9 points, while the sub-index measuring business outlook gained more robustly with a rate of 2 points.

The November gains surprised analysts who had predicted the Ifo index to drop to 99.5 percent in a poll by news agency Reuters.

Among the more than 7,000 German companies surveyed by Ifo, export businesses reported the biggest boost in confidence, to be followed by the German wholesale and retail sectors. In addition, the construction companies also said the mood had improved "noticeably."

"German exports to Asia and the United States seem to be rebounding, and retailers are more optimistic about Christmas sales as Germans continue to spend money," Ifo economist Klaus Wohlrabe told Reuters.

However, Wohlrabe warned that the brighter mood may not yet translate into higher economic growth in the final quarter of 2012, for which Ifo predicted the German economy to stagnate after modest growth of just 0.2 percent in the third quarter of this year.

uhe/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)