By DAVID McHUGH
FRANKFURT, German (AP) â¿¿ Germany's economy is bouncing back from a downturn at the end of last year, according to the country's leading economic research institutes.
In their twice-yearly report released Thursday, the institutes said Europe's biggest economy should see growth, moderate inflation and fewer unemployed this year. Fears that market turmoil from the eurozone debt crisis will flare up again and hurt Germany have lessened. And companies are well-positioned to export products such as cars and machinery to emerging markets.
The institutes foresee unemployment falling to an average of 6.7 percent for 2013 from 6.8 percent in 2012. Inflation is expected to remain moderate, at 1.7 percent, while the government budget should be balanced.The German economy shrank 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year but many economists think it is returning to growth. A recovery in Germany will be a key factor for the wider group of 17 countries that use the euro as it struggles to emerge from a recession. The European Central Bank forecasts the currency union's economy will shrink 0.5 percent this year and only start a gradual recovery later in the year. Despite their mostly upbeat outlook, the German institutes trimmed their growth forecast for this year to 0.8 percent from an earlier forecast last of 1.0 percent issued last October. Their report said that the reduction was largely due to the statistical effect of carrying over to this year the drop in output from the last quarter of 2012. For 2014, the institutes predicted stronger growth of 1.9 percent. The improvements in the economy should help the German government balance its budget this year, after a small surplus last year. Higher growth helps public finances because tax revenues from company and individual earnings are stronger, and because there are fewer outlays for unemployment benefits and other social welfare payments.