German Consumer Confidence to Rise in March, GfK Says

German consumer confidence will rise for a second month in March as an improving economic outlook and stable labor market encourage household spending, Gfk SE said.

The Nuremberg-based market research company forecast today that its consumer-sentiment index, based on a survey of about 2,000 people, will increase to 5.9 next month from 5.8 in February. That’s in line with the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 32 economists.

The Bundesbank said this month it expects the economy to return to growth in the current quarter, even as a recession in the euro region damps German exports. Business and investor confidence both rose more than economists forecasts this month, manufacturing output expanded for the first time in a year and unemployment dropped for a second month in January.

“German consumers anticipate that the economy will steadily improve in the coming months,” GfK said in an e-mailed statement. “It currently seems that the turning point in economic prospects has been reached.”

A measure of economic expectations jumped to minus 2.5 in February from minus 11.3 in January, approaching its long-term average of zero, GfK said. An index measuring willingness to buy rose to 37 from 35.3, while a gauge of income expectations eased to 31.8 from 36.

Italian bonds and stocks tumbled yesterday after elections there failed to produce a clear winner, renewing concern over the country’s commitment to reforms and Europe’s ability to rein in the sovereign debt crisis.

At the same time, German unemployment data due today are forecast to show the jobless rate holding at 6.8 percent, a two-decade low. That report will be published by the Federal Labor Agency in Nuremberg at 9:55 a.m.

“From here, sentiment will depend on how the labor market develops this year, and signs are good that the high level of employment can be maintained,” GfK said. “If financial markets remain quiet, consumers won’t worry.”