German industrial production lifts its head in March

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) –


Industrial production in Europe's largest economy Germany ticked up in March, official data showed Wednesday, suggesting some lightening of the gloom that has fallen over Europe's largest economy.

Output added 0.5 percent month-on-month, federal statistics authority Destatis said in figures adjusted for price, seasonal and calendar effects, although the measure remained 0.9 percent lower than a year before.

Looking to different industrial sectors, manufacturers of capital goods reported steady performance compared with February, while producer goods makers added 0.4 percent and consumer goods firms 1.1 percent.

Energy production rose 0.3 percent and construction output 1.0 percent.

In a separate statement, the economy ministry in Berlin noted that industrial production had risen 0.5 percent quarter-on-quarter between January and March.

Nevertheless, "significantly declining" new orders over the same period point to "muted industrial performance" in the coming months, it added.

Last month the ministry made the latest in a series of cuts to its forecast for growth in gross domestic product (GDP), expecting just 0.5 percent this year, as a slew of indicators pointed to a slowdown.

But "German industry is currently better than it's perceived to be" with production up in each of the last four months, economist Carsten Brzeski of ING bank commented.

Lower orders could mean a trough is still ahead for output, but GDP growth in "the first quarter might actually surprise to the upside," he suggested.

"It looks as if Germany could return as the best student in class" in the eurozone, Brzeski judged.