The consumer sentiment indicator, published by the Nuremberg-based GfK institute and based on a survey of around 2000 Germans, rose to 10.2 points, going into May.
A poll had expected the headline figure to rise to 9.9 points from 9.8 points in the previous month. GfK said overall economic expectations, propensity to buy and personal income expectations all picked up.
The government has said political uncertainties linked to Britain’s vote to leave the EU and protectionist policies in the US are clouding the outlook, but the economy appears to be shrugging off those threats at present.
Proposals presented by US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin this week to revamp the tax system did not include a controversial “border-adjustment” tax on imports, a relief for German exporters.
“Despite the uncertainty surrounding the future economic and political direction of the new US president and the Brexit negotiations which are just beginning, German consumers believe that their own economy is nonetheless headed in the right direction,” GfK researcher Rolf Buerkl said.
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This optimism has also lifted income prospects among Germans, who feel job security is high. Income prospects have been given an additional nudge by low inflation, which in March slowed down for the first time in nearly a year. Buerkl, who linked the drop in consumer prices to the price of crude oil, which came under pressure in March despite an agreement among producers to cut production in light of the resumption of fracking in the US.
A steady upswing of the economy, robust labour market, low interest rates and tamed inflation are increasing a tendency among German consumers to make bigger purchases.
“Employees, who consider that they enjoy good job security because of the excellent employment situation, will be more likely to take a larger risk when making purchases,” Buerkl said.