Belgium Economic Sentiment March 2016


Belgium: Business confidence inches up, but consumer confidence deteriorates further

March 22, 2016

The business confidence index elaborated by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) inched up from February’s minus 6.6 points to minus 4.2 points in March. The result reflected a broad-based improvement in all four sub-components of the index. Manufacturers’ sentiment increased substantially based on their assessment of total order books in March.

Meanwhile, the NBB consumer confidence index fell for a third consecutive month in March. The index declined from minus 5.0 in February to minus 7.0. According to the NBB, the sharp deterioration mainly reflects consumers’ more pessimistic opinions regarding the outlook for the overall economic situation. The result was the lowest in five months. Fear of rising unemployment and households’ strained financial situations contributed to the pessimistic assessment in March.

Although the impact on sentiment from the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels was not captured in March’s business and consumer confidence surveys, it is likely that the attacks weighed on sentiment, which may be reflected in the coming month’s survey.

FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect fixed investment to expand 0.8% in 2016, which is down 0.1 percentage points from last month’s projection. For 2017, the panel sees fixed investment growing 2.7%. Our panelists expect private consumption to expand 1.1% in 2016, which is down 0.1 percentage points from last month’s estimate. For 2017, the panel expects private consumption to grow 1.3%.

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Belgium Economic Sentiment Chart

Belgium Economic Sentiment March 2016

Note: Business and Consumer Confidence Indicators.
Source: National Bank of Belgium (NBB).

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