Euro-Area Exports Decline for Second Month as Recession Lingers

Euro-area exports decreased for a second month in May, led by Germany, as the 17-nation currency bloc struggled to emerge from a record-long recession.

Exports fell a seasonally adjusted 2.3 percent from April, when they dropped 1 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. May imports fell 2.2 percent after a 0.6 percent increase, and the trade surplus decreased to 14.6 billion euros ($19 billion).

The euro-area economy, which has contracted for six straight quarters, probably stagnated in the three months through June and will return to growth in the third quarter, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The International Monetary Fund forecasts the euro economy to shrink 0.6 percent this year.

Europe faces the risk of prolonged economic stagnation unless officials in the region pursue a strategy that accelerates domestic demand, Lael Brainard, the U.S. Treasury Department’s top international official, said yesterday. She said the Group of 20 economies meeting later this week need to take action to spur growth.

Exports from Germany, Europe’s largest economy, slumped 9 percent in May to 38.1 billion euros, today’s report showed. French shipments fell 4.6 percent, while Italian and Spanish exports rose 3.6 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

Today’s trade data followed Eurostat’s report on May industrial output, which was down 1.3 percent from a year earlier and fell 0.3 percent in the month.

‘Satisfactory Progress’

Volkswagen AG said on July 12 that vehicle deliveries grew 5.5 percent in the first half from the year-earlier period, driven by exports to the U.S. and Asia. Deliveries in Europe were down 3.5 percent.

Europe’s largest carmaker “made satisfactory progress even though market conditions were not always easy,” Christian Klingler, VW’s sales chief, said in a statement. “However, the economic climate remains tense, especially in Europe.”

PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-biggest carmaker, reported a 9.8 percent drop in first-half vehicle sales because of slumping demand in its home region and the end of component-kit deliveries to Iran. Chief Executive Officer Philippe Varin on July 8 reiterated a prediction that the European car market will contract 5 percent this year.

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