German factory orders fall more than expected in December

BERLIN — German factory orders fell more sharply than expected in December, suggesting recent coronavirus lockdown measures are starting to impact industry in Europe’s largest economy, new statistics showed today.

Industrial orders fell 1.9% in December over the previous month, following a slightly upwardly revised 2.7% increase in November, the Federal Statistical Office reported.

Economists had forecast a 1% decline for December.

Domestic orders decreased by 0.9% while foreign orders dropped by 2.6% in December. New orders from the eurozone fell 7.5%, while those from other countries increased by 0.5%.

The decline was the first in Germany after seven consecutive monthly increases, noted ING economist Carsten Brzeski.

German industry had remained almost unharmed by the November lockdown,” he said in a research note. “Today’s data, however, show that the stricter lockdown measures since mid-December, as well as the Christmas break, have finally hit German industry.”

Compared with February 2020, the month before the first restrictions were imposed in Germany due to the coronavirus pandemic, new orders in December 2020 were 2.6% higher in seasonally and calendar adjusted terms, the statistical office said.