German export machine rockets ahead: official data

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German exports shot up by the biggest amount for 10 years in May, the national statistics office said Thursday, as the euro's fall in value and a global rebound boosted Europe's biggest economy.

Merchandise shipped abroad by the world's second-biggest exporter after China climbed by 28.8 percent to 77.5 billion euros (98 billion dollars), the largest annual increase since May 2000, the Destatis office said.

It was also the highest level since October 2008, just after the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers sent the global economy into a tailspin.

The data might brighten the outlook for some firms following the German loss to Spain in a tight semi-final match at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, UniCredit economist Andreas Rees noted.

"Admittedly, after the soccer match yesterday evening, this is only a meagre consolation prize," Rees said. "But it is worth a try."

Meanwhile, imports soared by 34.3 percent to 67.7 billion euros in May, the biggest rise since January 1989, Destatis said.

As a result, the German trade surplus fell in May to 9.7 billion euros from a revised 13.1 billion the previous month, Destatis said.

Germany's current account surplus, a broad measure of trade that includes services, fell sharply to 2.2 billion euros in May from 11.3 billion euros in April.

That should take pressure off Berlin, which has been upbraided by European Union neighbours and the United States for maintaining a solid surplus that some claim comes at the expense of trade partners.

The figures were a general sign of stronger trade in the second quarter of 2010, a development that might weaken later this year after inventories are restocked and government austerity measures to curb deficits and debt kick in.

"The German economy is benefiting from the ongoing recovery of world trade," at present, Commerzbank economist Simon Junker noted.

"The emerging markets especially are showing a much stronger demand for goods."

On a monthly basis, exports gained a seasonally-corrected 9.2 percent, while imports climbed by 14.8 percent, Destatis said.

It was the biggest monthly rise in imports since the office began compiling seasonally-corrected data in 1990, and might indicate stronger demand for intermediate goods used by German companies to make finished products, Rees suggested.

"This in turn would signal that the underlying momentum in the industrial sector is still strong," he said.

For the period from January to May, Germany's trade surplus reached 60.4 billion euros, up by almost 29 percent from the same period a year earlier.

© 2010 AFP

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