Belgium: Leading indicators deteriorate sharply in March
March 22, 2013
The business confidence indicator published by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) fell to minus 15.0 points, hitting its lowest level in more than three years. The reading was below the minus 11.0 points registered in February and defied market analysts, as they had seen the index rising to minus 10.5 points. According to the NBB, the deterioration was broad-based, as sentiment fell in three out of the four sub-categories that compose the index. The sharpest fall was recorded in business-related services.
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panellists expect fixed investment to expand 0.2% in 2013, which is down 0.1 percentage points from last month's projection. For 2014, the panel sees fixed investment expanding 2.0%.
Meanwhile, the NBB's March consumer confidence index fell to minus 24.0 points (February: -17.0 points). According to the Bank, "fall in consumer confidence is almost exclusively due to the significantly worse macroeconomic outlook". Accordingly, consumers' assessment of the general economic situation for the next 12 months as well as their view on the labour market in the year ahead worsened over the previous month.
Participants expect private consumption to grow 0.2% in 2013, which is down 0.2 percentage points from last month's projection. Next year, the panel anticipates that private consumption will grow 1.1%.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist