German Exports Increased More Than Forecast in January

German exports rose more than economists forecast in January, adding to signs that Europe’s largest economy is gathering momentum after a contraction in the fourth quarter.

Exports, adjusted for working days and seasonal changes, advanced 1.4 percent from December, when they gained 0.2 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists had forecast a 0.5 increase, according to the median of 13 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Imports rose 3.3 percent from December.

While the German economy shrank 0.6 percent in the final three months of last year, the Bundesbank predicts it will rebound in the current quarter. Confidence among investors and businesses jumped in February and retail sales rose the most in more than six years in January. Still, factory orders unexpectedly fell and industrial production stagnated.

“Very hesitantly, hard data is reflecting the strong rebound in sentiment surveys,” said Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “The economy is rebounding from the sharp contraction, but the extent of the rebound remains subject to some uncertainty.”

The trade surplus rose to 13.7 billion euros ($17.8 billion) from 12.1 billion euros in December. The surplus in the current account, a measure of all trade including services, was 11.3 billion euros, down from 20.2 billion euros.

ECB Forecast

The European Central Bank last week cut its forecasts and now expects the euro-area economy, Germany’s biggest export market, to shrink 0.5 percent this year before growing by 1 percent in 2014. The German economy will expand 0.4 percent this year, according to the Bundesbank.

Recent economic data in the 17-nation currency bloc were “disappointing,” ECB President Mario Draghi said on March 7. At the same time, he expects the euro-area economy to “recover gradually” later this year.

Some German companies are compensating for weaker demand in Europe with shipments to faster growing markets.

Adidas AG (ADS), the world’s second-largest sporting-goods maker, on March 7 forecast higher sales and profit for this year and raised its dividend by 35 percent. The Herzogenaurach, Germany- based company said it will target emerging markets and introduce new products.

“We are still expecting economic growth of 1 percent in Germany this year,” said Ralph Solveen, an economist at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “The indicators of sentiment point to the positive trend continuing in the months ahead.”

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