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Germany

German investor sentiment hits highest levels in years

Sentiment among German investors has surged to its highest level since 2010 as Europe's biggest economy expects moderate growth in the first quarter of this year. Fears of a recession are thus abating again.

A widely watched confidence index among institutional financial players showed on Tuesday that German investor sentiment posted an unexpected surge in February.

The latest monthly survey by the Mannheim-based Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) indicated the index measuring investors' expectations for the next six months rose to its highest level since April 2010.

It reached 48.2 points, sharply up from the 31.5 points recorded in January, marking the third successive monthly rise.

Restricted optimism

German companies expecting to hire

"Financial market experts consider the weak final quarter of 2012 as over and done with," ZEW President Wolfgang Franz said in a statement. "They obviously believe that the euro crisis is not hampering the German economy as much as it is other nations in the bloc."

In the final three months of 2012, Germany's gross domestic product contracted by 0.6 percent, marking the steepest fall since 2009 when the global financial crisis was at its peak. The ZEW survey, however, suggested that the economy could pick up again in the first quarter of this year.

Nevertheless, the think tank's sub-index gauging investors' assessment of their current situation saw a drop by 1.9 points in February, reflecting a continuously uncertain business environment.

hg / ccp (Reuters, AFP)

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