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Belgium Economic Sentiment April 2021

Belgium: Consumer confidence ebbs in April, business confidence turns optimistic

The consumer confidence indicator produced by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) came in at minus 6.0 in April, down from March’s minus 4.0, amid still-high daily Covid-19 cases and the lockdown lasting for the better part of the month. The downtick came amid worsening expectations regarding employment. In addition, households’ outlook for the economic situation in the coming 12 months turned negative.

NBB’s business confidence indicator rose to 4.4 in April, contrasting March’s minus 1.0. April’s print marked an over 10-year high, and the first positive reading since late 2018. The sudden optimism was due to significant improvements in expectations for firms from the manufacturing industry, business-related services and the building industry, with only trade-related firms seeing their outlook deteriorate.

Going forward, sentiment should improve among firms and households, as the vaccination process continues and the health emergency ebbs. This, coupled with the reopening of the economy, could spark greater consumption as households spend their excess savings, and support investment.

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