German think-tanks raise economic growth forecasts

Leading German think tanks have raised significantly their growth forecasts this year and next for Europe's biggest economy, predicting Thursday that it will expand by 1.9 percent this year and 2 percent in 2018.

The five economic institutes said that exports and investment have now joined domestic consumption in powering growth. In April, they had predicted that gross domestic product would grow 1.5 percent this year and 1.8 percent next year.

Germany saw growth of 1.9 percent last year. The country has seen solid, if unspectacular, growth for several years.

Its unemployment rate should slide from an average 6.1 percent last year to 5.7 percent this year and 5.5 percent in 2018, according to Thursday's forecast.

That situation is reflected in high consumer confidence, although a separate survey Thursday suggested that international problems are clouding Germans' outlook somewhat.

The GfK research company said its forward-looking consumer climate index dipped to 10.8 points for October from 10.9 in September. That was the first decrease after five consecutive rises.

GfK, which surveyed 2,000 consumers, said that despite "the excellent domestic situation," Germans are growing more concerned over North Korea's nuclear program, Brexit negotiations, crises in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, and the fact that "how the U.S. government will position their trade policy in the future remains unclear."