German industrial orders slip further in March

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) –


German industrial orders fell for the third month in a row in March, official data showed Monday, disappointing the expectations of analysts who had hoped for a rebound.

New contracts for industrial firms fell back 0.9 percent, federal statistics authority Destatis said, far short of analysts' predictions for growth of 0.6 percent.

The figure dashes hopes for a rebound in the vital sector for Europe's powerhouse, completing a first quarter when indicators showed ebbing momentum after hectic growth last year.

Industrial indicators have fallen in step with other measures like business confidence, as players confront uncertainty over political events like Brexit and US President Donald Trump's protectionist threats against China and the European Union.

"After dynamic growth in industrial orders especially in the second half of 2017, the first quarter of 2018 has brought predictably calmer developments," the economy ministry in Berlin commented in a statement.

But the government economists added that "firms' order books remain very full" for almost the next six months.

Domestic demand for German goods rose in March, by 1.5 percent, but fell 3.0 percent among customers in the 19-nation euro single currency zone and 2.5 percent in the rest of the world.

And the picture was varied across the sector, with a bright spot of 2.2 percent growth in orders for consumer goods makers, while capital goods firms fell back 1.8 percent and producer goods 0.3 percent.

Overall, "despite the slight setback in the first quarter, industrial activity should remain on an upward trend," the economy ministry predicted.