(Bloomberg) -- Investor confidence in the German economy fell further from already depressed levels as the burden of higher energy costs filters through to companies and households. 

The ZEW institute’s gauge of expectations slipped to -55.3 in August from -53.8 in the previous month, missing economists’ estimates for a slight uptick. An index of current conditions also deteriorated.

“The still high inflation rates and the expected additional costs for heating and energy lead to a decrease in profit expectations for the private consumption sector,” ZEW’s Michael Schroeder said Tuesday in a statement.

Europe’s largest economy -- which failed to grow in the second quarter -- is reeling from lower Russian energy shipments that raise the threat of rationing in the coming months. Households face additional annual costs of about 290 euros ($296) after the government moved to spread the burden of spiking wholesale prices beyond utilities, further accelerating inflation.

On the positive side, gas flows through the Nord Stream pipeline restarted last month following scheduled maintenance work and storage facilities reached a fill-level milestone ahead of plan, raising hopes that shortages can be avoided. 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz last week promised citizens a third package of financial assistance to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, while warning that the country is facing “serious times.” His administration is rushing to reduce the country’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels while laying out energy-savings measures including cooler office temperatures during the heating season. 

Low water levels on the Rhine, a key transportation link, are meanwhile putting at risk the shipment of fuel and other goods, potentially worsening the kind of supply problems that companies have been dealing with as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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