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German business confidence rises for 2nd consecutive month, managers' future outlook brightens

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BERLIN — A closely watched survey showed Thursday that business confidence in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has risen for the second month in a row as lower oil prices and a weaker euro helped brighten managers' outlook for the next six months

The Ifo institute said its monthly confidence index rose to 105.5 points from 104.7 in November. The increase was in line with economists' expectations.

Ifo says managers' outlook for the coming six months improved while their assessment of the current situation was unchanged.

It was the second straight increase after six months of declines. Recent data have showed a promising increase in German factory orders, though the country's central bank has cautioned that it expects only modest economic growth over the winter.

Earlier this week, a separate survey of investor confidence rose sharply thanks at least in part to falling oil prices and a weaker euro. The euro's lower exchange rate against the currencies of other trading partners makes German exports more competitive on price.

ING-DiBa chief economist Carsten Brzeski said in a blog post that "lower energy prices and the weaker euro should make a decent short-term stimulus package for the German economy."

The German economy grew by a modest 0.1 percent in the third quarter as worries about the conflict in Ukraine weighed on business decisions. That followed a 0.1 percent decline the quarter before. Unemployment remains low, however, supporting consumer spending.

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