A monthly survey of German business leaders found overall sentiment about the direction of the German economy held steady in May.

The ifo Business Climate Index, which is based on monthly surveys of thousands of German companies, remained stable at 89.3 points in May, the Munich-based ifo Institute announced on Monday.

Analysts, however, had expected an increase to an average of 90.4 points.

The index had previously risen in each of the past three months, which is usually interpreted as an economic turning point.

The index is a widely watched indicator of business conditions in the country.

“The German economy is gradually working its way out of the crisis,” said ifo President Clemens Fuest.

The approximately 9,000 companies surveyed in May assessed the outlook for their future business as better, while they rated their current situation as worse.

The business climate brightened in industry, trade and construction, but deteriorated in the service sector.

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