AP COVERAGE

Feb 26, 8:12 AM EST

German consumers most confident since dot-com boom

AP Photo
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
Business Video

Latest Business News
McDonald's dropping human antibiotics from chicken

Transcripts reveal Fed confronting chaotic banking system

US running out of room to store oil; price collapse next?

Exxon CEO: Get used to lower oil prices

US stock indexes sink as market heads for a second loss

Multimedia
A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
US services firms grow at faster pace in February

AP survey: Why the outlook for global economy has brightened

Poland slashes interest rates to historic low of 1.5 percent

Eurozone showing signs of economic momentum

N. Korea shifts more responsibility to factories, farmers

India central bank cuts key interest rate as inflation eases

A complication for the Fed: Rate cuts by other central banks

CEO group: Trade would increase hiring in US

Ukraine hikes benchmark interest rate to 30 percent

Russian state's rainy day fund drops as finances squeezed

Buy AP Photo Reprints
Interactives
Greece's Debt Threatens to Spread
State budget
gaps map
Auto industry problems trickle down, punish Tennessee county
Women give old Derby hats a makeover in tough economy
S.C. town deals with highest unemployment in South
How mortgages were bundled and sold as securities
Tracking the $700 billion financial bailout
Tracking the year's job losses
State-by-state foreclosures since 2007
Credit crisis explained
Presidents and their economic legacies
Lexicon of the financial crisis
Americans' addiction to debt
Interactive
Berlin Wall: 20 Years Later

BERLIN (AP) -- Consumer confidence in Germany has hit its highest level in 13 years, leading an increase across Europe, as low energy costs and interest rates helped offset any concerns about the crises in Ukraine and Greece.

A survey released Thursday showed the rise in German consumer optimism to the highest levels since the dot-com boom buoyed the global economy was driven by an increase in disposable income as energy prices dropped.

The findings were echoed by a report on the wider eurozone, which saw confidence among both consumers and businesses increase to a seven-month high in February.

The region's economic outlook has brightened also thanks to a weaker euro, which helps exporters, and the European Central Bank's decision to provide a big monetary stimulus.

Though cheaper goods are helping consumers in the short term, the possibility that shoppers might come to expect lower prices in the longer-term has been a key concern for policymakers as that could trap the economy in a downward spiral. The ECB cited falling prices as a key concern in deciding to offer its stimulus.

For now, the lower cost of living is providing a welcome boost.

Germany's GfK research group said its forward-looking consumer climate index rose to 9.7 points for March from 9.3 in February. That's the highest value since October 2001, when the global economy was riding the wave of the dot-com boom.

The German GfK survey of 2,000 consumers shows increases in their economic and income expectations, as well as their willingness to buy as "the collapse in energy prices is boosting the purchasing power of private households."

"At present, German consumers are seemingly not greatly affected by the recent escalation of the situation in eastern Ukraine, the ongoing tensions between Russia and the West as well as events in Greece," GfK said.

Separately, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent in February from 7 percent the month before, with just over 3 million people out of work, the Federal Statistical Office said. When adjusted for seasonal factors the rate remained 6.5 percent.

"The German labor market has become solid as a rock and less affected by short-term volatility of the economy," said ING economist Carsten Brzeski. "Combined with low inflation and wage increases of around 3 percent it is no surprise that German consumers are currently very optimistic. "

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.