Foreign trade

German industrial output, trade surplus slip in March

Industrial production declined slightly and the trade surplus narrowed for Germany in March, official data showed Monday, although overall Europe's largest economy enjoyed a strong first quarter.

Industrial production declined slightly and the trade surplus narrowed for Germany in March
Industrial production declined slightly and the trade surplus narrowed for Germany in March (AFP)

BERLIN - Industrial production declined slightly and the trade surplus narrowed for Germany in March, official data showed Monday, although overall Europe's largest economy enjoyed a strong first quarter.

Industrial production was 0.4 percent lower in March than in February, adjusting for price, seasonal and calendar effects, federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement.

Analysts surveyed by data company Factset had predicted a slightly larger drop after a surprise leap in February.

Meanwhile, Germany's trade surplus -- the amount by which its exports outweigh its imports -- shrank slightly to 19.6 billion euros ($21.4 billion), according to preliminary data from Destatis adjusted for seasonal and calendar effects.

That was 1.5 percent lower than February's figure of 20 billion euros, as growth in imports outpaced a rise in exports.

"The economic situation in industry perked up in the first quarter of this year," the economy ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, "industrial orders and economic climate indicators point to continued positive trends," it added.

"Prospects for strong growth in GDP in the first quarter are very good after today's data," commented analyst Stefan Kipar of BayernLB bank.

Official data on German gross domestic product growth in the first quarter will be released on Friday.

Nevertheless, slower growth in industrial orders in recent months "limits the upward potential for industrial production in the coming months," Kipar went on.

Meanwhile, the lower trade surplus figure showed that "Brexit has left further marks on the German economy," analyst Carsten Brzeski of ING Diba bank suggested.

More pain is likely ahead as negotiations between London and Brussels and a possible further weakening of the pound take their toll on German-British trade, he predicted.

The slight decrease in the trade surplus is unlikely to quiet complaints from the United States and elsewhere that Germany is exporting too much while failing to invest the proceeds, Brzeski added.