German industrial production flat after 7 months of gains

BERLIN — Industrial production in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, stagnated in December after seven consecutive months of gains, official data showed today.

The figure from the Economy Ministry followed data on Friday that showed factory orders dropping nearly 1.9% in December compared with the previous month, nearly double the drop economists had expected.

The numbers reinforce the impression that the economy could contract again in the current quarter after eking out minimal growth of 0.1% in last year’s fourth quarter.

Germany embarked on a limited shutdown Nov. 2, closing restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities, then shut schools and nonessential shops on Dec. 16 after those measures failed to bring coronavirus infections down. Industrial activity has not been restricted.

The toughened lockdown remains in place. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors will discuss on Wednesday how to proceed after Feb. 14, when the measures are currently due to expire, but there appears to be little prospect of any significant relaxation.