German business confidence edges higher amid expectations of upswing next year

BERLIN – German business confidence has edged higher amid hopes of faster economic growth in the new year, a closely watched survey showed Wednesday.

The Ifo institute’s closely watched confidence index climbed to 109.5 points this month from 109.3 in November. That was in line with economists’ expectations.

The increase was fueled by a rise in companies’ expectations for the next six months, while their assessment of their current situation was a little less rosy.

The German economy, Europe’s biggest, is expected to see growth accelerate next year after only a modest increase in output in 2013. The recovery from recession across the 17-country eurozone is also forecast to continue.

The Germany economy is benefiting from persistently low interest rates and a “relatively subdued” euro, IHS Global economist Timo Klein said.

He added that German exporters still have “a very good competitive position and should thus be well positioned to profit from the current strengthening of global growth momentum.”

Ifo’s monthly survey is based on responses from about 7,000 companies.

A separate survey released Tuesday by the ZEW institute showed investor confidence leaping to a 7 1/2-year high on similar hopes of an economic upturn.