Good news for Germany as unemployment fell for the first time in five months in December - by 15,000. The jobless rate stayed steady at 6.9 per cent. Expectations were for no fall from November's figure of 10,000.
Christian Schulz of Berenberg:
Strong labour market data raises the chances of stronger wage growth in 2014 and thus higher consumption. Less unemployment also further alleviates the burden on the public purse and thus opens up room for more public investment as agreed by the new grand coalition government.
More important than the fall in unemployment is the robust pace of job creation. German employers have created 242,000 jobs from November 2012 to November 2013.
Core employment, which includes jobs which pay enough to be liable for social security contributions, increased by 359,000 in the same period.
However, despite job creation throughout last year, unemployment has increased by 33,000 compared to a year ago.
This, explains Schulz, is "partly due to the expiry of government-sponsored employment programmes and partly to the fact that companies have difficulties finding the right qualifications within the remaining pool of unemployed." This has meant that many firms have resorted to hiring from the silent reserves or from abroad, he adds.