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Belgian Business Confidence Unexpectedly Rises on Demand Outlook

July 25 (Bloomberg) -- Belgian business confidence unexpectedly increased for the first time in five months in July as the demand outlook improved in the manufacturing, building and services industries.

The confidence index for Belgium rose to minus 11.3 from minus 13.2 in June, the Brussels-based National Bank of Belgium said in a statement today. Economists had predicted a decline to minus 13.6, according to the median of 13 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

“In the business-related services, the entrepreneurs assessed the level of activity more positively, and they are also optimistic about demand forecasts,” the central bank said. “In the building industry, the evolution of the order book was less negative, equipment was more intensively used and the demand outlook improved.”

The improving sentiment among Belgian executives, which had dropped to the lowest level since October 2009 a month earlier, contrasts with declines in German and French business confidence. German business confidence fell for a third straight month in July to the lowest reading since March 2010, the Ifo institute said today. French confidence also dropped to the lowest level since early 2010.

Consumer confidence in Belgium fell to a five-month low in July amid mounting concerns over the economic outlook and joblessness, which households expect will reduce their capacity to save.

To contact the reporters on this story: John Martens in Brussels at jmartens1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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