Belgian Business Confidence Unexpectedly Rose in December

Belgian business confidence unexpectedly rose for the first time since March as demand forecasts among executives in construction, manufacturing and trade gained ground.

The confidence index for Belgium increased to minus 10.6 from minus 12.2 in November, the National Bank of Belgium in Brussels said in a statement today. Economists had projected a drop to minus 12.5, the median of 13 forecasts compiled by Bloomberg News showed.

“Business confidence firmed up in the manufacturing industry, more markedly so in the building industry and especially in trade,” the central bank said. “In each of the three branches of activity considered, the outlook for demand was given a rosier assessment.”

The central bank said that in the business-related services, “where the business indicator had shown a very clear recovery the previous month, the situation stabilized. The smoothed overall synthetic curve, which reflects the underlying trend, is still on a downward path.”

Ratings Cut

New Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo pledged budget cuts to prevent Belgium from succumbing to the European debt crisis as he took office this month, ending a political stalemate that had endured since inconclusive elections in June 2010. The following week, Moody’s Investors Service cut Belgium’s credit rating two steps, citing rising borrowing costs, slowing economic growth and liabilities from the breakup of French-Belgian lender Dexia SA. German business confidence unexpectedly rose for a second month in December.

A gauge of demand expectations among executives in the trade industry jumped to minus 12.5 from minus 27.3 in the previous month, according to the central bank. A sub-index of demand forecasts in the manufacturing industry increased to minus 11.2 from minus 17.5, while the building-industry gauge improved to minus 9 from minus 11.1.

Consumer confidence in Belgium, the euro region’s sixth- largest economy, rose in December, rebounding from the steepest drop in three years in the prior month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Henry in Brussels at phenry8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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