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Belgian Consumer Sentiment Falls to Lowest in Almost 3 Years

Belgian consumer confidence dropped to the lowest in almost three years in February amid growing pessimism on the outlook for employment and the economy.

The consumer sentiment index for Belgium, the euro region’s sixth-largest economy, fell to minus 20 from minus 16 in January, the Brussels-based National Bank of Belgium said today in a statement. That is the lowest since April 2009.

“The drop in the indicator is mainly the consequence of greatly increased pessimism on the part of consumers with regard to the unemployment outlook,” the central bank said. “They expect the general economic climate to decline further.”

The central bank last week forecast the nation’s economy will contract 0.1 percent this year, cutting a December projection for growth of slightly less than 0.5 percent. Luc Coene, the bank’s governor, said the government needs to find at least 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in additional budget cuts of to meet its 2012 deficit target.

Across the 17-nation euro region, consumer confidence is projected to improve further this month after hitting a two-year low in December, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. The European Commission will release the flash estimate for euro-area consumer sentiment tomorrow.

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