Survey finds German consumer confidence edging higher amid hopes for return to growth

A survey has found that consumer confidence in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, is edging higher as shoppers feel more optimistic about the country's future.

The GfK research institute says Wednesday that its forward-looking confidence indicator stands at 5.9 points for March — up from 5.8 in February.

It says consumers' economic expectations continued to brighten amid predictions that economic growth will return in the current quarter after declining in the October-December period.

Their optimism is being fed by a solid job market. Unemployment stood at 7.4 percent in January. That compares favorably with some of the countries worst-hit by Europe's debt crisis.

GfK says the labor-market situation will be key to determining how consumer confidence develops this year.