German exports unexpectedly increased for a second month in February, led by demand from outside Europe.
Exports, adjusted for work days and seasonal changes, rose 1.6 percent from January when they gained 3.4 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists forecast a drop of 1.2 percent, according to the median of 10 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Imports surged 3.9 percent.
The economy may avoid a recession in the first quarter as unemployment at a two-decade low bolsters domestic demand, offsetting the impact on foreign sales of the debt crisis in Europe, Germany’s main export market. Business and investor sentiment rose last month after Greece received a second bailout and the European Central Bank pumped more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) into the banking system to stem the turmoil.
“German exports should benefit from a recovering global economy,” said Aline Schuiling, an economist at ABN Amro Bank NV in Amsterdam. “Still, as the euro-area economy is the main export market, domestic demand will be the main driver of growth in the first quarter before foreign sales pick up again later in the year.”
The trade surplus widened to 14.7 billion euros in February from 13.2 billion euros in January, the report showed. The surplus in the current account, a measure of all trade including services, was 11.1 billion euros, up from 9.5 billion euros a month earlier.
German companies are relying on faster-growing markets to boost sales as European governments from Spain to France cut spending to reduce budget deficits.
The International Monetary Fund forecasts the single-currency region will contract 0.5 percent this year, compared with projected expansions of 1.8 percent in the U.S. and 7.3 percent in developing Asia.