German industrial production ebbs in January

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – Industrial output in Germany fell back in January, official data showed yesterday, adding to a picture of a slowdown taking hold across the 19-nation eurozone.

Firms reported output 0.8 per cent lower month-on-month at the start of the year, federal statistics authority Destatis said, disappointing forecasts for a small rebound from analysts surveyed by Factset.

But there was a bright spot in last December’s data, as the statisticians revised that month’s change to an increase of 0.8 per cent after initially reporting a 0.4-per cent fall.

Looking to different elements of production in January, capital and producer goods makers both saw lower output, but consumer goods firms booked an increase.

And both energy generation and construction also reported expansion.

“Given lower production in January and weak forward-looking indicators, we can continue to expect subdued business conditions in industry,” the economy ministry in Berlin said in a statement.

Weakening growth across the single currency bloc prompted the European Central Bank last week to promise a new round of cheap loans to banks, in a bid to keep credit flowing and stimulate activity.

But Berlin also highlighted bottlenecks from new emissions tests in the vital car industry as well as other temporary braking effects like strikes at supplier firms that weighed on the first month’s data.

In a separate release, Destatis figures showed Germany’s export motor continuing to run in January with an increase of 1.7 per cent year-on-year in goods shipped abroad, to 108.9 billion euros.

But imports grew signficantly faster, adding 5.0 per cent to reach 94.4 billion euros – shriking the month’s trade surplus by 2.7 billion euros, to 14.5 billion.