German exports were up for the first time in six months in March, adding to signs that the pace of the economic contraction slowed slighly as we entered the spring. Exports, adjusted for working days and seasonal changes, were 0.7 percent from February, when they fell 1.3 percent, according to the latest data from the Federal Statistics Office. Year on year exports were down 15.8% following a 23.5% drop in February and a 23.2% drop in January.
German imports increased 0.8 percent in March from the previous month, when they dropped 4.8 percent. The trade surplus widened to 11.3 billion euros from 8.6 billion euros in February. The surplus in the current account, the measure of all trade including services, was 10.2 billion euros, up from 6.8 billion euros. On a seasonally adjusted basis exports were up by 0.4 billion euros from February, which means you can just barely notice the change on the chart below: ie there is still a very long way to go here.
The euro-area economy, Germany’s largest trading partner, will probably shrink 4 percent this year and 0.1 percent in 2010, the European Commission said on May 4. In Germany, the economy may not return to growth before the second half of 2010, Bundesbank President Axel Weber said on May 4.
German industrial production held more or less steady in March, for the first time in six months. Output was unchanged from February, when it dropped 3.4 percent, according to the latest data from the Economy Ministry in Berlin. Manufacturing industry continued to contract however, and was down 0.4% on the month, and by 22.8% year on year.
That being said, German industrial output levels are now very low (see chart below), and are roughly comparable with those registered in 1999/2000.
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