German industrial production rebounds in March

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) –


Industrial production in Germany bounced back in March from a February slip, official data showed Tuesday, soothing fears of sharp slowdown after a year of unexpectedly strong growth.

Output among industrial firms in Europe's powerhouse added 1.0 percent month-on-month, federal statistics authority Destatis said.

Capital goods producers were the biggest contributor to the growth, adding 2.6 percent, while deliveries from consumer goods makers also swelled but producer goods firms fell back slightly.

Overall, "industrial production took a breather in the first quarter after the strong growth over the year 2017," the economy ministry in Berlin commented, with the March results showing that "the upturn remains intact".

The positive signal for output is especially comforting for Germany after figures released Monday showed the third monthly slip in a row in industrial orders.

The first-quarter slowdown was caused by strikes, widespread time off due to flu infections and awkwardly-timed Easter holidays rather than weakness in the wider economy, the government economists argued.

Also on Tuesday, Destatis issued figures showing Germany's balance of trade -- the amount exports outweighed imports -- leapt in March to 22 billion euros, compared with 19.1 billion in February.

The nation's export success has long caused grumbling among trade partners in Europe and the United States, who complain Germany's massive surpluses come at their expense.

Tensions with Washington over protectionism have mounted in recent weeks, with the European Union unable to secure more than a temporary reprieve from President Donald Trump's tariffs on metals imports that many observers fear could spark a tit-for-tat trade war.