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German industrial production, exports weak in December


February 7, 2020
By The Associated Press

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German industrial production dropped sharply in December and exports barely edged higher, official data showed Friday, rounding off a poor year for manufacturing in Europe’s biggest economy.

Production was down 3.5 per cent compared with the previous month, the Economy Ministry said. It added that production over the full fourth quarter was down 1.9 per cent, led by sharper drops in the machinery and auto industries.

Those figures came on top of a 2.1 per cent month-on-month decline in factory orders reported Thursday.

Also Friday, Germany’s Federal Statistical Office reported that exports were up 0.1 per cent on the month in December after dropping 2.2 per cent the previous month. Imports were down 0.7 per cent.

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That meant that, for the full year, exports rose just 0.8 per cent – compared with three per cent the previous year and 6.2 per cent in 2017. Imports were up 1.4 per cent, down from 5.6 per cent in 2018 and eight per cent in 2017.

Germany’s economy has grown for 10 consecutive years but last year’s 0.6 per cent growth was the weakest since 2013. Fourth-quarter figures haven’t yet been released, but officials estimated last month that the economy grew slightly compared with the previous quarter.

ING economist Carsten Brzeski said that would now be “a positive surprise.”

“The German manufacturing sector remains caught between cyclical weakness, on the back of the trade conflict and weaker global growth, and structural weakness, on the back of disruption in the automotive sector and too little investment,” he wrote in a research note.

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