Exports and investment fueled Germany’s record economic growth in the second quarter, a detailed breakdown of the data showed today.
Exports rose 8.2 percent from the first quarter and equipment investment increased 4.4 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Gross domestic product surged 2.2 percent when adjusted for seasonal swings, the office said, confirming an Aug. 13 estimate. That’s the fastest since records for a reunified Germany began in 1991.
The German economy, Europe’s largest, may struggle to maintain its pace of expansion in the second half. While companies including Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s largest maker of luxury cars, have relied on booming export demand to boost earnings, economies from China to the U.S. are showing signs of weakening.
“Investments in particular look pretty good, the recovery is more solid than thought,” said Ralph Solveen, head of economic research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “Growth rates will weaken in the second half of the year, but the upswing is sustainable.”
From a year earlier, GDP increased 3.7 percent when adjusted for the number of working days after rising 2 percent in the first quarter. In 2009, the economy contracted 4.7 percent, the most since World War II.
Consumer spending rose 0.6 percent in the second quarter, its first gain since the second quarter of 2009, today’s report showed.
“Private consumption was good for German standards,” said Joerg Lueschow, an economist at WestLB AG in Dusseldorf. “When exports become less dynamic in the second half of the year, consumption should help to compensate.”
Construction spending rose 5.2 percent from the first quarter, when it fell 0.7 percent as an unusually harsh winter kept workers off building sites. Government spending increased 0.4 percent in the second quarter and imports rose 7 percent.
The global recovery is already losing some momentum. In the U.S., the world’s largest economy, claims for jobless benefits jumped to the highest level since November and Philadelphia-area manufacturing shrank for the first time in a year in August. Growth in China’s manufacturing industry also weakened in July.
Still, the Bundesbank on Aug. 19 raised its growth forecast for Germany this year to 3 percent from 1.9 percent, calling the second quarter “extraordinarily dynamic.” Bundesbank President Axel Weber said in an interview with Bloomberg News on the same day that “an upward revision of the forecast for 2011 is not excluded but likely to be modest.”
Hochtief AG, Germany’s largest construction company based in Essen, on Aug. 16 raised its outlook for orders this year. Matthias Zachert, chief financial officer of Lanxess AG, said on Aug. 10 that the world’s second-biggest maker of butyl rubber is “coming out of the recession stronger.”
“The growth rates you have in emerging markets are simply outpacing everything,” Zachert said in an interview on that day. “We have not yet reached the utilization rates of” 2008 “and our profitability is already higher.”