German Exports Surged to Record in March, Boosting Growth

German Exports Surged to Record in March
Germany’s BASF SE, the world’s biggest chemical company, reported a 40 percent jump in first-quarter earnings last week. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

German exports surged in March to the highest monthly value ever recorded, boosting growth in Europe’s largest economy.

Exports, adjusted for work days and seasonal changes, jumped 7.3 percent from February, when they gained 2.8 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists had forecast a 1.1 percent increase, according to the median of 10 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Exports were worth 98.3 billion euros ($141.4 billion) in March, the most since records began in 1950, the statistics office said.

Germany’s economic recovery is broadening as companies boost investment and hiring to meet booming export demand from emerging Asia. The economy may have expanded as much as 1 percent in the first three months of the year and may maintain its growth momentum in the current quarter, according to the Bundesbank.

“The German economy continues to power ahead,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “After a very strong start to 2011, Germany may lose a little steam over the summer.”

The euro rose almost half a cent after the report to $1.4424 at 8:16 a.m. in Frankfurt.

Record Imports

From a year earlier, exports rose 15.8 percent, today’s report showed. Imports advanced 16.9 percent in the year and 3.1 percent from February. Worth 79.4 billion euros in March, imports also reached a record monthly value.

The trade balance widened to 18.9 billion euros from 11.9 billion euros in February. The surplus in the current account, a measure of all trade including services, was 19.5 billion euros in March, up from 8.7 billion euros in February.

Germany’s BASF SE, the world’s biggest chemical company, reported a 40 percent jump in first-quarter earnings last week and Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, said profit this year will rise at least 75 percent.

The German government predicts economic growth of 2.6 percent this year after a record 3.6 percent expansion in 2010.

The country will regain its place as the world’s second-biggest goods exporter in 2011 after being overtaken by the U.S. last year due to exchange-rate movements, the Ifo economic institute said on April 19.

“In times of investment catching up in the emerging world, infrastructure renewals in the western world and a general shift of energy policies toward alternative and renewable energies, German industry simply offers the right mix,” said Carsten Brzeski, senior economist at ING Group in Brussels.

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