German exports declined more than economists forecast in November as the sovereign debt crisis weighed on euro-area demand.
Exports adjusted for working days and seasonal changes fell 3.4 percent from October, when they unexpectedly rose 0.2 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. That’s the steepest decline in more than a year. Economists had forecast a 0.5 percent drop, according to the median of 9 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Imports fell 3.7 percent from October.
Weaker demand for its goods from the 17-nation euro region is hurting the German economy, which probably contracted markedly in the fourth quarter, the Bundesbank said last month. Still, euro-area investor confidence as measured by Sentix jumped to the highest level since 1 1/2 years in January as signs multiply that the region’s debt crisis may be beginning to ease.
“The big problem has been subdued demand in neighboring economies, and November saw a particularly weak level of activity in other euro-area countries,” said Sarah Hewin, head of European research at Standard Chartered Bank in London. “On a positive front, we think that the German economy should grind higher in the coming quarters.”
The trade balance widened to 17 billion euros ($22.3 billion) from 15.7 billion euros in October. The surplus in the current account, a measure of all trade including services, was 15.3 billion euros, up from 13.2 billion euros.
German companies like Bayerische Motoren Werke AG are offsetting weak European sales with stronger demand in China and the U.S. BMW may report higher profit and record sales for 2012, Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said on Dec. 7.
A recovery in the euro-area economy could be fostered by political reforms agreed last year as well as measures by the European Central Bank to calm financial markets, President Mario Draghi said last month.
While “the medium-term outlook remains challenging,” we may see the “beginning of a recovery in the second part” of 2013, Draghi said in Brussels on Dec. 18. The economy probably contracted 0.5 percent in 2012 and may shrink 0.3 percent this year, ECB forecasts show.