Germany’s benchmark investor sentiment index fell for the second consecutive month in February, the ZEW Institute said Tuesday, as the growth outlook for Germany deteriorated amid sharp declines in financial and commodity markets around the world.
The headline component of the indicator fell to 1.0 points in February from 10.2 in January, the ZEW said, marginally higher than the 0.0 mark anticipated by analysts polled by MNI. The current conditions index also slipped to 52.3 from a previous tally of 59.7, but missed the MNI median forecast of 53.0.
“The looming slowdown of the world economy and the uncertain consequences of the falling oil price put a strain on the ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment,” said the ZEW’s Sascha Steffen in a statement. “In view of these developments, the concern over an increased credit default risk has already caused stock and bond prices for many banks in Europe, Japan and the US to slump.”
The two consecutive declines suggest the growth momentum in Europe’s biggest economy will be difficult to maintain, particularly given the uncertainty in emerging markets and impact it will have on the country’s key export sector.
“This is a poor report … a marginal beat of the consensus for the expectations index offers scant consolation,” Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Claus Vistesen wrote in a client note.” “Investor sentiment is not always an accurate indicator for economic sentiment, but if the ZEW falls below zero for an extended period, it is usually a sign of more troubling times ahead for the economy.”
That said, Germany’s Bundesbank said Monday that it economic growth will likely accelerate in the first quarter of the current year, backed by healthy domestic demand that is underpinned by a combination of expansionary fiscal policies, rising construction activity and robust consumer demand.
“The German economy could grow more strongly in the first quarter 2016 than it did at the end of last year, supported by increasing domestic economic dynamics,” the Bundesbank wrote in its regular monthly report for February.
Germany’s economy expanded at a steady pace in the final three months of last year, the country’s statistical office Destatis reported last week, again supported by rising public expenditures.
Economic activity rose by 0.3% in real terms between October and December compared with the previous quarter, the release showed, maintaining the same growth rate seen in Q3 and matching MNI’s median forecast.
Steffen noted in a post-release briefing that, while the main index’s decline could be linked to developments in the global economy, the current concerns over bank capitalization and profitability closer to home are starting to weaken other metrics in the survey.
“The substantial decrease of value in the financial sector is expected to get worse in the next few months. We think that this is more due to structural problems of the banking sector,” Steffen said. “While some might argue that the main factor in this is the low profitability of European banks versus their US peers, we are of the opinion that the root of the problem is that the European banking sector is less capitalized than envisaged by the ECB.”