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1ST LEAD German investor index slips amid political uncertainty By Andrew McCathie, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - The mood among German investors is ending the year on a downbeat note as Chancellor Angela Merkel struggles to form a new government amid the political uncertainty unleashed by September‘s inconclusive election, but better times could beckon.

The Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) said on Tuesday its closely watched monthly economic expectations indicator for Europe‘s biggest economy edged down to a lower-than-forecast 17.4 points this month, from a reading of 18.7 points in October.

Analysts had expected the index to decline to 18.0 this month. The ZEW index is based a survey of about 300 analysts and financial institutions.

Any figure above zero indicates the number of respondents who see growth ahead is higher than the number that expects a decline.

However, despite the political uncertainty, the path ahead still looks bright said the organization.

"Overall, the outlook for the German economy in the coming six months remains positive," said ZEW President Achim Wambach.

"The current state of uncertainty surrounding the formation of a government in Germany has not had any significant impact on the assessment of the economic outlook," he said

The ZEW index measuring the analysts and institutions‘ assessment of current economic conditions rose 0.5 points to 89.3 points this month.

Merkel is set to meet Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz on Wednesday in a bid to form a new coalition after September‘s inconclusive election.

In the meantime, the European Central Bank is expected to confirm on Thursday the current strength of the 19-member eurozone when it releases a new set of economic growth and inflation forecasts.

This week‘s ECB‘s 25-member governing council meeting will be its last for the year and include, for the first time, the bank‘s projections for 2020.

Speaking at this press conference on Thursday, ECB chief Mario Draghi is likely to claim on behalf of the bank part of the credit for the underpinning growth in the currency bloc, a result of the bank‘s ultra-loose monetary policy.

A report released on Tuesday by a panel of experts pointed to Germany‘s property boom continuing thanks in part to the ECB‘s record low interest rates.

Property prices in Europe‘s biggest economy rose by 25 per cent last year compared to two years earlier after buyers splurged about 237.5 billion euros (279 billion dollars) on real estate in the country in 2016, according to a government report.

The study was prepared in cooperation with a government advisory body, the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR).

The release of the ZEW report and the countdown to the ECB meeting also came as talks for Britain‘s exit from the European Union enter a critical phase and EU political leaders call for reforms of the Brussels-based bloc.

"Financial market experts, however, expect to see negative effects resulting from this with regard to the Brexit negotiations as well as EU reforms," said Wambach.

The December fall in the ZEW took the indicator further away from its long-term average of 23.7 points.


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