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Manufacturing industry boosts Belgian business confidence
Belgian business confidence rebounded in April from a three-and-a-half-year low in the previous month as gains in the manufacturing industry offset deterioration elsewhere in the economy, reports Bloomberg’s Jones Hayden. The confidence index for Belgium rose to -14.7 from -15 in March, the Brussels-based National Bank of Belgium said today. That matched the median estimate of 12 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The March reading was the lowest since September 2009. “It was only in the manufacturing industry that the business climate picked up,” the central bank said. “By contrast, business confidence in April deteriorated in business-related services, the building industry, and even more so in trade, for the third month running.” An index of sentiment in the manufacturing industry increased to -16.9 in April from -18.4 in the prior month, driven by improved forecasts for both demand and employment, the central bank said. “Conversely, in the trade sector, the loss of confidence can be mainly explained by a third successive decline in demand prospects,” the bank said. The overall improvement in confidence in Belgium contrasts with a second straight monthly decline in business sentiment in Germany, Europe’s largest economy and one of Belgium’s main trading partners.