A steep drop in foreign demand has caused German factory orders to plummet in January, according to the German Economics Ministry. Domestic orders increased, but were unable to offset the overall decline.
Total industrial orders in Germany dipped by 2.7 percent in January, the ministry reported in Berlin on Wednesday. The unexpected drop came after a 1.6-percent increase in orders in December last year.
Analysts polled by the dpa news agency's financial news service had expected January orders to increase by another 0.9 percent.
"Altogether, industry orders were fairly weak at the start of the new year," the ministry said in a statement.
The January slump was caused in particular by a below-average demand for big-ticket items, such as ships, aircraft and rolling stock, the ministry's data revealed. Order books shrank across most business areas.
There was a staggering 8.6-percent fall in orders from nations outside the 17-member eurozone in January, just after exports there surged by 12.1 percent in the previous month.
By contrast, orders to Germany's main trading partners within the eurozone fell by only 0.4 percent. Analysts had expected the drop to be more distinct, given a series of budget austerity measures taken by governments across the eurozone.
Domestic demand was slightly on the rise in January, leading to an 0.9 percent increase in orders, but failing to offset the general slump in foreign demand.
On a sector-by-sector basis, orders for capital goods decreased by 5.5 percent month-on-month, while demand for consumer goods was down by 2.9 percent.
hg/nk (dpa, AFP, Reuters)