Investing.com -- A closely-watched measure of Germany’s economic mood improved in February, easing concerns over the health of the euro zone's largest economy.
The ZEW Center for Economic Research said that its index of German economic sentiment rose to -13.4 points this month from a reading of -15.0 in January. That's a tad better than the -14.1 expected by analysts ahead of time.
However, the Current Conditions Index fell to 15.0 from 27.6, compared to expectations for a reading of 20.0.
An index level above 0.0 notionally indicates optimism, whereas a level below 0.0 indicates pessimism. In reality, the ZEW index is more useful as a gauge of turning points in the economic mood, rather than as a measure of absolute levels.
The forward-looking index has been improving since October, while the Current Conditions index has been trending down since January 2018. Both trends basically continued unchanged in February.
Recent data showed that the German economy only narrowly avoided slipping into a recession at the end of last year, amid global trade conflicts, messy Brexit negotiations and the after-effects of the diesel emissions scandal on its auto sector.
A new threat to the auto sector is now emerging: U.S. President Donald Trump is reviewing a report from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that reportedly describes auto imports as a threat to U.S. national security - a classification that could pave the way for import tariffs on German cars.