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Mar 25, 5:28 AM EDT

German business confidence posts 5th straight increase


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BERLIN (AP) -- A closely watched survey is showing a bigger-than-expected increase in German business confidence as managers in Europe's biggest economy take a brighter view of its outlook for the next six months.

The Ifo institute said Wednesday its monthly confidence index rose to 107.9 points for March from 106.8 in February. It was the fifth consecutive rise, and better than economists' forecast of an increase to 107.3.

Managers' view of their current situation improved in line with expectations. Their brightening outlook for the next half-year exceeded predictions.

German exports have been buoyed by the depreciating euro and domestic demand also is in good shape. ING-DiBa economist Carsten Brzeski said it appears the European Central Bank's stimulus efforts could "enable the German economy to extend its golden cycle without any new reforms."

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