(Bloomberg) -- German business sentiment improved to its highest level in a year — reinforcing recent signs that Europe’s largest economy is exiting two years of struggles.

An expectations gauge by the Ifo institute rose to 89.9. in April from a revised 87.7 the previous month. That exceeds the 88.9 median forecast in a Bloomberg survey. A measure of current conditions also advanced.

“Sentiment has improved at companies in Germany,” Ifo President Clemens Fuest said. “Companies were more satisfied with their current business. Their expectations also brightened. The economy is stabilizing, especially thanks to service providers.”

A stronger global economy and the prospect of looser monetary policy in the euro zone are helping drag Germany out of the malaise that set in following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said last week that the country may have “turned the corner,” while Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also expressed optimism, citing record employment and retreating inflation.

There’s been a particular shift in the data in recent weeks, with the Bundesbank now estimating that output rose in the first quarter, having only a month ago foreseen a contraction that would have ushered in a first recession since the pandemic.

Even so, the start of the year “didn’t go great,” according to Fuest.

“What we’re seeing at the moment confirms the forecasts, which are saying that growth will be weak in Germany, but at least it won’t be negative,” he told Bloomberg Television. “So this is the stabilization we expected. It’s not a complete recovery. But at least it’s a start.”

Monthly purchasing managers’ surveys for April brought more cheer this week as Germany returned to expansion for the first time since June 2023. Weak spots remain, however — notably in industry, which is still mired in a slump that’s being offset by a surge in services activity.

“We see an improving worldwide economy,” Fuest said. “But this doesn’t seem to reach German manufacturing, which is puzzling in a way.”

Germany, which was the only Group of Seven economy to shrink last year and has been weighing on the wider region, helped private-sector output in the 20-nation euro area strengthen this month, S&P Global said.

Fresh forecasts Wednesday from the government in Berlin also suggested a slightly stronger rebound, with growth of 0.3% now envisaged for this year compared with 0.2% before. Output is still seen rising by 1% in 2025.

“Prospects have improved, but the level at which we are operating is still very low,” Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel told RTL.

At the same time, the country’s fiscal restraint is asserting itself over public finances after years of crisis spending. Debt as a percentage of GDP will fall from 64% this year to 62% in 2028, the Finance Ministry said separately. The public-sector deficit will stay under 2% over that period.

--With assistance from Joel Rinneby, Kristian Siedenburg, Francine Lacqua, Kamil Kowalcze and Craig Stirling.

(Updates with Bundesbank comment in penultimate paragraph.)

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