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German business confidence up in December, beats forecast

BERLIN (AP) — A closely watched survey showed Wednesday that business confidence in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, rose for the second consecutive month in December. The Ifo institute said that managers' assessment of both their current situation and their outlook for the next six months brightened. Its monthly index was up to 96.3 points from 95.1 in December, the latest evidence of an uptick in sentiment since it bottomed out in August.

The increase beat economists' expectations of a modest rise to 95.5. The economy narrowly avoided a widely anticipated recession in the third quarter. Official figures released last month showed that it grew 0.1% in the July-September period compared with the previous quarter, when it contracted by 0.2%. Strong domestic spending helped spark the modest growth.

The Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, said Monday that output is likely to remain flat in the current quarter. Factory orders and industrial production both declined in October, getting the fourth quarter off to a poor start.

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