A boom in the retail sector goes on. The number of hypermarkets increased by 20% last year and reached 106 in November of 2001. Construction of new hypermarkets was concentrated in the eastern part of the country last year, particularly in Ostrava where five new hypermarkets were opened in 2001. Another 20 hypermarkets should be opened this year.
Composite confidence indicator decreased slightly in February 2002 compared to January of the year, according to a survey of the Czech Statistical Office. This was due to a similar development of both business indicator and consumer confidence indicator. Construction enterprises express more favorable expectations influenced by a coming construction season.
The German gross domestic product decreased a real 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2001 compared with the fourth quarter of 2000. The last time the German economy shrank on a year earlier was in the first quarter of 1996 (–0.1%). The annual result for economic growth in 2001 remains unchanged compared with the result published by the Federal Statistical Office on 17 January 2002 (+0.6%; calendar adjusted +0.8%).
German firms were more optimistic in February than at any time in the past six months. The Ifo institute's monthly confidence indicator rose for a fourth month to 88.7 from a revised 86.2 in January.
U.S. consumer confidence fell in February as concerns about unemployment and the reliability of company earnings reports freeze enthusiasm that had been building since September. The Conference Board's indicator of sentiment dropped to 94.1 after rising to 97.8 in January. The decline was the first in three months.
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