Belgium: Leading indicators paint mixed picture in November
November 23, 2012
The November business confidence indicator published by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) inched up to minus 13.4 points from minus 13.5 points recorded in October, which had represented the lowest level in three years. The reading overshot market expectations, which had anticipated the index would remain unchanged at minus 13.5 points. According to the NBB, business confidence improved notably in business-related services and in the trade sub-category, as firms revised their expectations for demand and employment. That said, business sentiment deteriorated in manufacturing and in construction. At the same time, the Bank's November consumer confidence indicator plunged to minus 24 points, which was well below the minus 17 points observed in October. The print represents the lowest level recorded since March 2009. According to the Bank, the decline was broad-based, reflecting households' more pessimistic assessment of the general economic situation as well as dim prospects for the labour market in the next 12 months (which in part reflects last month's restructuring plans of car maker Ford). In addition, consumers expect a deterioration in their future financial situation, while they assessed that their capacity to save will worsen in the coming year.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist