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German consumer confidence impressive

FRANKFURT, Sept 25 – German consumers are feeling more confident, a survey showed Friday as Europe\’s biggest economy emerges from its worst slump in 60 years and voters get set for a national election.

The GfK institute\’s consumer confidence index for September rose to an estimated 4.3 points from a revised 3.8 points in August, marking the fifth consecutive monthly rise.

The news came two days before a general election, with Chancellor Angela Merkel\’s conservative Christian Democrats tipped to win the highest number of votes but not a clear majority.

"The last time consumer confidence recorded a comparable rally was in 2005," ING senior economist Carsten Brzeski noted.

GfK polled around 2,000 consumers and concluded that private spending "remains the major source of support for the German economy this year, since investments and exports will record a big loss for 2009."

The group also warned that "should the number of unemployed people rise sharply in the coming months, this will adversely affect consumers and weaken the consumer climate."

Consumers assessment of the economy, a sub index, improved in the latest poll for the sixth straight month and they reported that their personal income prospects were better for the fourth month running, GfK found.

That was in large part due to low inflation and a jobless rate that has remained in check so far owing to government measures.

Those surveyed also said they felt more likely to make large purchases.

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GfK\’s figures came a day after the Ifo survey of German business confidence for September posted its sixth monthly increase to its best level in a year, even though it fell short of market expectations.

The German economy expanded 0.3 percent in the second quarter of 2009, ending the country\’s worst recession in six decades, but it is still expected to contract by at least five percent for the full year.

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