January boost for German industry ahead of virus impact

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – German industrial production nudged upwards in January, official data showed yesterday, although the fillip for the struggling manufacturing sector predated the impact of the novel coronavirus.

Industrial output expanded 3.0 per cent month-on-month in January, federal statistics authority Destatis said.

There were boosts for makers of producer and capital goods, while consumer goods firms held steady. But the overall barometer remained slightly below its level from a year before, as manufacturers were only beginning to recover from the United States (US)-China trade war, Brexit uncertainty and other factors that braked industry throughout 2019.

In a separate release, Destatis reported exports flat month-on-month in January, while imports grew slightly.

Exports to Britain remained down 16.3 per cent year-on-year after 2019 brought repeated episodes of Brexit brinkmanship.

“At face value, this morning’s data is encouraging, adding to evidence of a bottoming-out of the German manufacturing sector. However, COVID-19 has changed everything,” said ING bank analyst Carsten Brzeski.

With its globally interconnected industry and economy, “Germany will feel the impact of the unprecedented combination of supply-side and demand-side shocks” due to the virus, Brzeski said.

File photo of the Central Business District skyline in Frankfurt, Germany. German industrial production nudged upwards in January, official data showed yesterday, although the fillip for the struggling manufacturing sector predated the impact of the novel coronavirus