Survey: Jump in German business optimism despite pandemic

The buildings of the banking district are seen during sunrise in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, March 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

FRANKFURT – German businesses grew more optimistic in March, despite a growing number of coronavirus cases and a looming tightening of pandemic restrictions, according to a closely watched survey released Friday.

The Ifo institute's index of business sentiment rose to its highest rate since June 2019, as Europe's industrial motor whirred on largely unhurt by the damage that the pandemic has done to the wider economy.

The survey index climbed to 96.6 points from 92.7 points in February, the institute said.

The manufacturing sector saw optimism rise to levels last seen in November 2010, amid a hike in demand for industrial goods.

The services sector also made gains, with the exception of hospitality businesses that were still suffering from pandemic restrictions.

Optimism in the construction and retail sectors also grew. While small retailers continued to complain about weak business, bicycle sellers and florists expect continued brisk trade.