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Business confidence in Belgium increased, National Bank net profit 550m

Staff writer |
The National Bank of Belgium’s business barometer picked up in March, after having posted two consecutive months of decline.

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The economic climate gained strength in the manufacturing industry and, more moderately, in the trade and businessrelated services sectors. In the building industry, the increase was only very marginal.

With the exception of the assessment of stocks which was downgraded for the third month in a row, manufacturing company managers had a more positive take on the questions making up the indicator this month, in particular their assessment of total order books.

Retailers, for their part, are notably expecting to see an increase in their staff numbers over the coming three months.

In business-related services, where last month’s slight recovery has continued throughout March, entrepreneurs once again appeared to be more optimistic about their current level of activity; they are also expecting general market demand to pick up a little.

On the other hand, forecasts for firms’ own activity have been revised downwards, after being on an upward path since last October.

In the building industry, the significantly lower use made of equipment compared with last month was offset by an improvement in the demand-side components, and especially the trend in order books.

The overall smoothed synthetic curve, which reflects the underlying economic trend, dropped back very slightly under the impact of the previous two months’ negative results.

The National Bank of Belgium’s Council of Regency has approved the annual accounts for 2015.

In 2015, the Bank made a net profit after tax of €550 million, down by 130 million, or €19%, on the previous year.

The capital gains made on assets in euro have declined sharply, because the ease of interest rates was less important than during last financial year (- €56 million).

As regards dollar-denominated securities, the rise in interest rates has led to a fall in realised gains as well as an increase in unrealised losses (- €15 million).

Furthermore, the Bank made bigger exchange rate profits (+ €14 million), as a result of the appreciation of the dollar exchange rate.

The net result of the pooling of monetary income turned negative once again, due to the non-recurrence of exceptional income from the last financial year (- €23.8 million).

The drop in other income can be attributed mainly to the exceptional income in 2014 related to the comprehensive assessment and to the sale of the branch office in Antwerp (- €30.9 million)

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