(AP) An index of German investor optimism rose more than expected in December, suggesting market professionals think Europe's largest economy will slow down but avoid an outright recession.
The ZEW indicator of economic sentiment rose to plus 6.9 points, from minus 15.7 in November. Markets had expected the index to rise only to minus 11.5.
Wolfgang Franz, head of the ZEW, or Centre for European Economic Research, said Tuesday the results showed that while German growth would cool off through the rest of the year, Germany will not have to face a recession.
That's so long as the eurozone debt crisis does not deepen again, he added. Market fears that a European government will need a bailout or default on its debt have eased in recent months. News that Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti plans to leave office ahead of schedule has caused some new market tension, but Monti's announcement came at the very end of the survey period, on Saturday.
ZEW surveyed 278 investment professionals from Nov. 26 through Dec. 10.
Germany's economy grew a modest 0.2 percent in the third quarter.