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ECONOMY

Investor sentiment hits three-year high

Investor sentiment in Germany inched higher in March to the highest level for more than three years, with analysts convinced that the outlook for Europe's top economy remains bright, a new survey found on Tuesday.

Investor sentiment hits three-year high
Photo: DPA

The widely watched investor confidence index calculated by the ZEW economic institute edged up to 48.5 points in March from 48.2 points in February. That is its highest level since April 2010.

“After three substantial increases between December 2012 and February 2013, the indicator has stabilised in March at a respectable level,” said ZEW president Clemens Fuest.

“The political situation in Italy and the rescue package for Cyprus have increased the risk that the eurozone debt crisis will worsen again. This may have contributed to the fact that the indicator has not increased substantially this month,” he said.

Nevertheless, the analysts quizzed by ZEW were sticking to their forecasts, Fuest continued.

“The economic situation in Germany is likely to improve over the next months. As before, the eurozone debt crisis remains the biggest risk. This fact has been brought back to our attention over the last weeks,” he said.

For the survey, ZEW questioned 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 jumped by 8.4 points to 13.6 points in March, its highest level since August 2012.

A frequent criticism against the ZEW index is that it can be volatile and is therefore not particularly reliable.

AFP/mb

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MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

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