German investor confidence hits 16-month low

Frankfurt (AFP) –


Worries about slowing global growth and uncertainty about the economic consequences of low oil prices sent investor sentiment in Germany to a 16-month low in February, a leading survey showed on Tuesday.

The investor confidence index calculated by the ZEW economic institute declined by 9.2 points to 1.0 point in February, its lowest level since October 2014, the think tank said in a statement.

Analysts had been expecting an even steeper drop to zero points this month.

"The looming slowdown of the world economy and the uncertain consequences of the falling oil price put a strain on the ZEW" index, the statement said.

"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," said Sascha Steffen, ZEW's head of international finance and financial management research.

For the survey, ZEW questions analysts and institutional investors about their current assessment of the economic situation in Germany, as well as their expectations for the coming months.

The sub-index measuring financial market players' view of the current economic situation in Germany fell by 7.4 points to 52.3 points in February, its lowest level since January 2015, ZEW said.

- Hit by market turmoil -

"Growth prospects for the German economy have taken a hit from latest market turbulences," said ING DiBa economist Carsten Brzeski.

"Against the background of the latest market turmoil, this drop in investor sentiment is anything but a surprise. Tumbling stock markets, a stronger euro and more general concerns about the global growth outlook have clearly dented optimism about the German economy's growth prospects," the expert said.

Capital Economics economist Jessica Hinds agreed.

"February's ZEW investor survey suggests that the recent turmoil in global financial markets and the soft tone of the domestic data continued to weigh on investor sentiment," she said.

"This leaves the index at its lowest level since October 2014 and implies that only a very slim majority of investors see economic conditions improving in the next six months."

Hinds said that the ZEW data "adds weight to our view that German growth is set to slow."

According to preliminary data last week, Germany's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 0.3 percent in the final quarter of last year, bringing full-year growth to 1.7 percent.

"In all, we do not see German growth grinding to a halt, but we still envisage a slowdown," she said.

ING DiBa's Brzeski said the disappointing data would cause market participants to look even closer at possible next stimulus moves by the European Central Bank.

On Monday, ECB chief Mario Draghi vowed that the bank "will not hesitate to act" to try and drive inflation in the single currency area higher.