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German business confidence halts slide in May

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Frankfurt am Main (AFP)

Confidence among German business leaders held steady in May after months of erosion, a regular survey showed Friday, although doubts remained over the outlook for the world economy.

The Munich-based Ifo institute reported a reading of 102.2 in its monthly barometer, the same level as April after five slips in a row.

"The German economy is performing well in a difficult international situation," Ifo president Clemens Fuest said in a statement.

Business leaders were slightly more confident about the present economic situation, the survey showed, but a little less optimistic about the future for Europe's largest economy.

Fears have mounted for Germany, the motor of the 19-nation eurozone, as growth and confidence indicators fell off in recent months and fears of a trade conflict with the United States grew.

That danger is far from dispelled, with US President Donald Trump threatening this week to slap a border tax on car imports -- which would hurt Germany's auto-heavy economy.

And a June 1 deadline is approaching for Trump to decide whether to permanently exempt EU steel and aluminium imports from tariffs.

Failure to do so could trigger a tit-for-tat spiral of retaliation that would further sap growth, observers warn.

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