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.