Germany’s foreign trade surplus narrows in October, industrial production loses momentum

BERLIN – Germany’s imports and exports grew in October but industrial production lost further momentum, reports showed Monday, raising concern over the strength of Europe’s largest economy.

The production of big-ticket items dropped a second month in a row in October, by 1.2 per cent when adjusted for seasonal and calendar differences, the Economy Ministry said. That followed a 0.7 per cent drop in September.

Last week, the ministry reported industrial orders dropped an unexpectedly sharp 2.2 per cent in October compared with the previous month.

The figures “cast new doubt over the strength of the German economy,” said ING economist Carsten Brzeski.

Meanwhile, the foreign trade surplus narrowed to 16.8 billion euros ($23 billion) in October, from 18.8 billion euros a month earlier, the Federal Statistical Office said.

The drop was mainly due to a rise imports — a sign of domestic demand — rather than a drop in exports.

Exports were up 0.2 per cent from September in seasonally and calendar-adjusted terms, at 92.9 billion euros. Economists had predicted a 0.5 per cent decline. Imports rose 2.9 per cent to 76.1 billion euros after falling the previous month.

Critics argue that Germany’s large trade surplus has been causing problems for struggling partners in the 17-nation eurozone. The United States recently urged Germany to push for more domestic-led growth.