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German trade surplus swells in October

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Germany's closely-watched trade surplus expanded in October, as exports defied global tensions with a surprise increase, official data showed Monday.

[FRANKFURT] Germany's closely-watched trade surplus expanded in October, as exports defied global tensions with a surprise increase, official data showed Monday.

Goods sold abroad outweighed imports by 20.6 billion euros (S$31 billion), federal statistics authority Destatis said in seasonally-adjusted figures.

Exports grew 1.2 per cent month-on-month, to 119.5 billion euros, while imports were roughly flat at 98 billion.

The trade surplus boost stands in stark contrast to the 1.7-per cent month-on-month fall in industrial production in October.

sentifi.com

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Meanwhile international trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, US President Donald Trump's threats of tariffs against EU goods and Brexit have all been weighing on cross-border business.

Looking in more detail at the figures, 70 billion euros of German exports went to the EU, roughly flat year-on-year, while third-country exports grew 4.6 per cent to 49.5 billion.

Meanwhile both EU and non-EU imports fell compared with a year ago.

ING bank economist Carsten Brzeski noted that "German exports have held up surprisingly well in recent months," but warned that "the ongoing drought in order books is a strong argument against optimism."

"With disappointing consumption and industrial data but encouraging trade data, the economy will remain on a windy road between contraction, stagnation and meagre growth," he added.

In the near term, a second quarter of negative growth for 2019 appears less likely in October-December than many economists feared, after Germany narrowly escaped a technical recession - two successive quarters of shrinkage - in July-September.

AFP