BERLIN (Reuters) - Sentiment in the euro zone picked up in December as investors took a brighter view of the future, probably due to expectations that the European Central Bank will start buying assets next year, a survey showed on Monday.
Sentix research group's index tracking morale among investors in the euro zone climbed to -2.5 in December from -11.9 the previous month, faring much better than the -10.5 forecast in a Reuters poll.
The rise was driven by the third-strongest increase in investor expectations in the index's 12-year history to 12.0 from their November reading of -2.0.
ECB President Mario Draghi said last week that the euro zone's central bank would decide early next year whether to take further action to revive the bloc's economy.
"His de-facto announcement of broad-based security purchase program is probably the main reason why investors' expectations for the coming six months have improved so dramatically," Sentix said.
The ECB has set itself a goal of expanding its balance sheet - buying assets from banks and others in return for cash it hopes will be pushed into the economy - by up to 800 billion or even 1 trillion euros.
The Sentix survey showed investors' perception of the current economic situation improved in December but remained in negative territory.
A sub-index tracking sentiment in Germany surged to 19.6 in December from 9.8 in November, with Sentix pointing out that a weak euro is helping Germany, a traditionally export-oriented economy, while consumers and companies are benefiting from lower oil prices.
Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Stephen Brown