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Refugee crisis dampens German consumer confidence: survey

German retail sales dipped in December, marking a weak end to the year and suggesting private consumption, which has been a pillar of support for Europe's largest economy, could lose steam in the fourth quarter.

[FRANKFURT] Consumer confidence in Germany is being dampened by Europe's refugee crisis as consumers worry about the economic consequences of the huge influx of migrants, a poll found on Thursday.

"Consumer optimism is waning somewhat," market research company GfK said in a statement.

"The dampening of consumer sentiment in August was clearly no flash in the pan. When global economic risks are considered, doubts about future economic prospects are also being generated by various flashpoints and the recent sharp increase in a largely unchecked stream of refugees."

Looking to October, GfK's headline household confidence index was forecast to slip to 9.6 points from 9.9 points in September.

GfK noted that the barometer nevertheless remained at a very good level.

"If we look at the very positive development in the retail sector, we can assume that consumer spending will continue to be a very important pillar for the economy this year," it wrote.

"To what extent the sharp influx of refugees will have an effect on domestic demand remains to be seen," GfK continued.

On the one hand, the number of people needing goods and services would increase, which would be positive for consumption.

"But if people become nervous about the large number of refugees and start to worry about their jobs - whether such fears are justified or not - that could have a negative effect effect on consumption," the institute cautioned.