Belgium: Business confidence improves in February, consumer sentiment stabilizes
February 24, 2014
The National Bank of Belgium's (NBB) business confidence indicator rose to minus 4.0 points in February, marking an improvement over the minus 5.6 points registered in January. The increase overshot the minus 5.6 points the market had expected. According to the NBB, the improvement reflected more optimistic sentiment regarding business-related services and a slight improvement in construction. Conversely, business confidence weakened in the manufacturing and trade sectors.
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect fixed investment to expand 1.3% in 2014, which is up 0.1 percentage points from last month's projection. For 2015, the panel sees fixed investment growing 1.8%.
The February consumer confidence index stabilized at January's minus 4.0 points and thus continued on the upward trend that has been in place since April 2013. According to the Bank, the unchanged figure mainly reflected consumers' less optimistic view of the general economic situation in the next 12 months. Conversely, households were more optimistic regarding the labor market and their future financial situations.
Panelists expect private consumption to grow 1.0% in 2014, which is unchanged from last month's projection. Next year, the panel expects that private consumption will grow 1.2%.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist