June 5, 2012 / 11:14 AM / in 5 years

German industry orders slump as foreign demand falters

A containership is loaded at a terminal at the harbour in Hamburg, late March 30, 2011. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

BERLIN (Reuters) - German industrial orders fell at their fastest rate since November 2011 in April as orders from abroad dried up, adding to signs that Europe’s largest economy is heading for a slowdown.

Seasonally and price-adjusted order intake sank 1.9 percent on the month, Economy Ministry data showed on Tuesday, well below the consensus expectation for a decline of 1.0 percent in a Reuters poll of 34 economists.

The fall was driven by a 3.6 percent drop in orders from abroad. Orders for consumer and capital goods were the hardest hit, falling 5 percent and 3.3 percent respectively.

“Overall the data shows that Germany’s comparatively robust economy has not escaped the crisis unscathed,” said Peter Meister of BHF Bank.

“A lot of economic data coming out of the U.S. and big emerging markets has not been particularly positive recently. The German economy, which is very dependent on exports, will see a slowdown in the coming months,” he added.

The Economy Ministry said the steep fall came after special factors boosted growth in March. The data for March was revised upwards to 3.2 percent from a previously reported 2.2 percent.

But the ministry added that the order volume remained above levels seen in the first quarter of the year.

The data adds to signs of impending gloom after a purchasing managers’ index released earlier on Tuesday showed Germany’s services sector grew at the most sluggish pace in six months in May, more slowly than originally estimated, as new orders and backlogs of work dropped.

An influential Ifo survey released last month also showed German business sentiment collapsed in May and the manufacturing sector shrank as turmoil in the euro zone unsettled firms.

Reporting By Michelle Martin

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