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Foreign Trade

Weak exports see German trade surplus narrow further

Germany's trade surplus has narrowed to its lowest level in over half a year. Exports have risen only marginally, while imports have soared, prompting economists to reiterate their recession fears.

German exports rose by 0.3 percent in October, the National Statistics Office (Destatis) reported on Monday, following a 2.4 percent drop in the previous months.

But an October rise of imports by 2.5 percent meant that the country's trade surplus narrowed to levels not seen since March of this year. German companies exported goods worth 98.5 billion euros ($129 billion), but sluggish demand in the debt-stricken eurozone nations took its toll.

Unadjusted data revealed that German shipments to euro area countries declined by 1.2 percent in the January through October period compared to levels reached in the same period last year.

Bleak outlook

"The outlook may be slowly improving with positive signals for Chinese and American growth," Berenberg Bank economist Christian Schulz said. "But the eurozone recession is likely to continue to weigh on German exports."

While Germany has been an engine of growth throughout much of the sovereign debt crisis, economic weakness in much of the 27-member European Union is starting to bite, with Germany selling roughly 60 percent of its exported goods to that area.

Many economists viewed Monday's meager export figures as renewed proof that Germany was itself heading towards a recession, with an economic extraction expected for both the final quarter of the year as well as for the first three months in 2013.

hg/dr (dpa, Reuters)