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German retail, jobless data raises hopes for robust private consumption

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German retail, jobless data raises hopes for robust private consumption

German retail, jobless data raises hopes for robust private consumption

Germany's unemployment rate hit a new record low in March and retail sales rose on the month in February, data showed on Friday, in a boon for expectations that private consumption will support growth in Europe's largest economy this year.

David Pollard reports.

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German retail, jobless data raises hopes for robust private consumption

Germany narrowly skirted recession last year.

Try telling that to its shoppers.

They spent nearly a percent more in February than January, according to new data in a month when sales were forecast to drop.

Employment numbers too are making positive headlines.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF GERMANY'S LABOUR OFFICE, DETLEF SCHEELE, SAYING: "Although the trend increase has somewhat lessened, the job market continues to grow." Unemployment dropped to 4.9 percent this month, a new record low.

But for all the good news, there is bad and much of it can be wrapped up in one word.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "Tariffs ... which of course have been imposed already in some areas against the Europeans too.

And steel and aluminium and there are threats of more tariffs on cars and so on being posed." Germany's Ifo institute slashed its 2019 growth forecast from 1.1 to 0.6 percent this month due to weaker foreign demand.

A GFK survey this month shows consumer morale deteriorating unexpectedly heading into April.

Yet exports could rise three per cent this year to a record 1.4 trillion euros, according to the BGA trade group.

Though that would be despite the risk of a chaotic UK departure from the EU.

When nearly half of German companies doing business in Britain aren't ready for Brexit - according to a survey from KPMG and the British Chamber of Commerce.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) KPMG MANAGING PARTNER, ANDREAS GLUNZ, SAYING: "That's scary, certainly.

It reflects the uncertainties because today all scenarios are still on the table, which is difficult for companies to prepare for." For the moment, though, the optimists see a glass half full.

Even, they say, as slowing exports push Germany's economic numbers down, strong consumer demand could help pick them up again.




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