BERLIN – German consumers are increasingly optimistic despite continuing problems in the eurozone, a closely-watched survey showed Friday, buoying hopes that domestic spending can help offset slowing exports.
The GfK institute's forward-looking consumer climate indicator rose to 6.3 points for November from a revised 6.1 points in October, the second monthly rise following a three-month retreat. Income expectations were up sharply while consumers' willingness to buy rose slightly too.
"In summer this year fear of a recession was widespread but it is now diminishing," the Nuremberg-based GfK said. "It remains to be seen whether this trend already marks a turning point in economic expectations; the signals from the economy are not particularly encouraging at the moment."
Germany's economy, which was worth a little under €2.6 trillion ($3.4 trillion) last year, in comparison with the U.S.'s €12 trillion, has seen two consecutive years of robust growth. Its economy expanded by 4.2 percent in 2010 and 3 percent last year.
But the Economy Ministry last week cut its growth forecast for 2013 to 1 percent from 1.6 percent, though increased this year's outlook slightly from 0.7 percent to 0.8 percent. The economy grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter and the ministry said indicators point to "further moderate growth" in the third quarter as well.
Germany's export-driven economy has managed to make up for weakening support from other European Union nations, several of which are in recession, with growth elsewhere including to Russia and China.
ING economist Carsten Brzeski said the GfK survey suggest that German consumers "remain cool and serene" despite the ongoing euro crisis.
"Given past experience, optimistic consumers have never been sufficient to prevent the economy from falling into a recession," he said.
The report was based on a survey of 2,000 consumer interviews conducted each month for the European Commission.