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German industrial orders suffer biggest monthly drop to fresh record

Martin Arnold in Frankfurt

German factory orders fell 25.8 per cent in April, the largest ever monthly decline that was almost double the previous record set only the month before, underlining how the pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the industrial heartland of Europe.

The Federal Statistics Agency said the monthly drop in new German industrial orders was the biggest since it started its survey in 1991, adding that price-adjusted turnover in the country’s vast manufacturing sector also declined 22.8 per cent in the period.

The decline was worse than the 19.7 per cent decline that economists in a Reuters poll had forecast.

Ralph Solveen, economist at Commerzbank, said the figures gave “little hope” of a rapid rebound in May.

“Unsurprisingly, the automotive industry was hit particularly hard, with a minus of more than 43 per cent, partly due to the fact that car dealers’ showrooms were closed for much of the month,” he said.

The sharp fall in orders highlights how the coronavirus crisis has brought added misery for Germany’s manufacturing sector, which has long been the export-focused powerhouse of Europe’s largest economy, but which for the past two years has suffered from declining output.

The decline in April was heaviest for orders of German capital goods, such as machinery, equipment and vehicles, which dropped just over 30 per cent, while orders for intermediate goods, such as car parts or chemical additives, were down 22.7 per cent. Consumer goods orders fell 11.4 per cent.

The fall in new orders was steepest in other eurozone countries, where demand for German manufactured goods dropped over 30 per cent, while domestic orders fell 22.3 per cent.

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