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German exports grow, but factory output falters

German exports are set for another record year as shipments of goods and services abroad gathered momentum in November. But factories here produced less in a sign that Europe's biggest economy might be cooling.

Germany's exports edged higher from October to November on stronger demand for goods and services both inside and outside the European Union, official data showed on Friday.

Shipments in the month grew by 0.4 percent to 99.3 billion euros ($108 billion), the German federal statistics office, Destatis, calculated, while imports surged more strongly, rising by 1.6 percent to 79.6 billion euros.

Compared with the same month a year ago, exports were 7.7 percent higher and imports 5.4 percent, meaning the unadjusted trade surplus amounted to 20.6 billion euros.

Breaking down the total, Destatis data showed that countries in the European Union took in 9.5 percent more than in November 2014. Exports to the 19-nation eurozone expanded 8.8 percent, while countries outside the two blocs imported 5.1 percent from Germany.

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Manufacturing falters

As German exports seem headed toward another record year in 2015, the country's industrial production weakened slightly in November, weighed down by falling activity in the manufacturing sector.

The Economy Ministry in Berlin calculated that production contracted by 0.3 percent in November compared with a month earlier. The fall was most significant in manufacturing industries where output shrunk by 0.8 percent month-on-month.

The construction sector and energy output, however, expanded, growing 1.6 percent and 2.5 percent respectively.

Carsten Brzeski, an analyst at ING-DiBa, told the news agency Reuters the figures added to evidence that "the Chinese and emerging market slowdowns are leaving their marks on the Eurozone's largest economy."

And Alexander Krüger, analyst with German bank Bankhaus Lampe, told the same agency that "subdued" industrial orders and investment would continue to make German growth primarily "a story based on domestic consumption."

Meanwhile, French industrial production also slipped 0.9 percent in November compared to a month earlier, the Insee statistics agency said. But unlike in Germany, manufacturing production grew slightly in the European Union's second leading economy, while activity in the energy, water and extractive industries fell.

uhe/xxx (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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