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Apr 24, 5:15 AM EDT

German business confidence posts sixth straight increase


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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- A closely watched survey of optimism among German businesses shows that confidence grew for a sixth straight month in Europe's biggest economy.

The Ifo institute said Friday that its monthly confidence index rose to 108.6 points for April from 107.9 in March. The reading slightly exceeded market expectations for 108.4 points.

Ifo says the numbers show the "upswing in the German economy continues."

Analyst Carsten Brzeski at ING said that "the German economy is in decent shape" and that "the first months of the year point to a good, though not excellent, growth performance in the first quarter."

Germany's economy is helping the 19-country eurozone slowly rebound from a crisis over high government and bank debt. Governments have held back spending to try to reduce debt, keeping growth slow and unemployment high. A 1.1 trillion euro ($1.2 trillion) monetary stimulus program from the European Central Bank is expected to help growth pick up in coming months.

The Ifo survey is based on some 7,000 monthly surveys of business managers and is closely watched as a key indicator of Germany's economic prospects.

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