September trade data proved underwhelmingly, as exports contracted for the fourth time in the last six months, falling 0.8% month-on-month. The result contrasted August’s upwardly revised expansion of 0.1% (previously reported: -0.1% month-on-month) and came in below market expectations of a 0.3% expansion. Imports contracted 0.4% month-on-month, a less steep fall than the previous month’s revised 2.4% decrease (previously reported: -2.7% mom). The calendar and seasonally-adjusted trade surplus narrowed from EUR 18.2 billion in August to EUR 17.6 billion in September. Most trade was again conducted with other European Union members.
On a year-on-year basis, exports contracted 1.2% in September, contrasting August’s 2.4% expansion. Subsequently, growth in the 12-month moving sum of exports eased from 4.7% in August to 4.2%. Import growth remained robust, however, and came in at 5.3% in September (August: +6.8% year-on-year), while growth in the 12-month moving sum of imports was stable at 6.2%. As a result, the 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus narrowed from EUR 242.6 billion in August to EUR 238.2 billion in September.
Commenting on the September result, Holger Bingmann, President of the Federal Association of Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA), stated that “the increasing worldwide protectionism and risks such as the upcoming Brexit will not make it easy for companies in the coming months.”
Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING, states that September’s trade data “ends a disappointing week for German industry. Available monthly data suggests that the economy had its worst quarterly performance in 3Q since the beginning of 2015. “