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Germany

German machine tool sector on the tear again

Germany's key mechanical engineering sector has made big strides lately to recover from sluggish trade in much of 2012. The industry has recently posted increasing eurozone orders, with domestic demand remaining low.

Rapidly rising orders from the 17-member euro area helped boost Germany's mechanical engineering sector in the final month of 2012, the domestic industry association VDMA reported on Tuesday.

Overall orders rose by 4 percent in December year-on-year, with 5 percent more goods shipped to foreign countries and only 1 percent more shipments going to customers in Germany itself.

"In December, incoming orders turned to the positive growth rates seen in September and October," said VDMA Chief Economist Ralph Wiechert. "Momentum in foreign orders came primarily from partner countries in the euro area."

Enhanced confidence

Wiechert added that domestic orders were looking a bit thin on an annual basis. For 2012 as a whole, overall orders dropped by 3 percent, with the volume of goods delivered to domestic clients decreasing by 8 percent.

He noted that the overall drop was moderate, considering the highly unfavorable business environment on global markets last year. Wiechert said he was confident that the worst was over now.

Germany's machine tools sector currently employs over 900,000 people working mostly in small and medium-sized companies. But the sector also boasts listed engineering heavyweights such as ThyssenKrupp, Gildemeister and GEA.

hg/hc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)