Germany: Exports record sharpest contraction in two-and-a-half years in February
German exports continued to drop in the second month of the year, contracting 3.2% on a seasonally- and calendar-adjusted month-on-month basis. The result was the strongest decline since August 2015 and a sharper downturn than the prior month’s revised 0.4% contraction (previously reported: -0.5% month-on-month). Meanwhile, imports also contracted more sharply in February than in January on the same basis: Import growth decreased 1.3% mom compared to the prior month’s revised 0.2% drop (previously reported: -0.5% mom). Germany’s trade surplus fell from January’s revised EUR 21.5 billion surplus (previously reported: EUR +21.3 billion) to a EUR 19.2 billion surplus in February. Export data for the first two months of the year, when viewed in conjunction with other available indicators, suggests that 2017’s economic momentum is losing steam.
On an annual basis, exports continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace. In February, exports expanded 2.4% year-on-year, a marked moderation from January’s 8.6% yoy rate. A similar trend was observed in imports, but the slowdown was less steep. Imports increased 4.7% yoy in February, down from the 6.9% yoy expansion seen in January. Meanwhile, the 12-month moving sum of exports inched down from 6.1% in January to 6.0%; however, the 12-month moving sum of imports inched up from 7.9% in January to 8.0%. As growth in imports outpaced export growth, the 12-month accumulative trade balance went down, from a revised EUR 248.6 billion surplus in January (previously reported: EUR +249.0 billion) to a EUR 247.1 billion surplus in February.