German exports fell by 1.5 per cent, following June’s 1.3 per cent decline. Imports fell by 0.3 per cent, reducing the country’s trade surplus to €10.1bn (£8.8bn), its lowest since January 2010.
Analysts point to sluggish demand around the world as a cause. “The decline in exports in recent months has been broad based but particularly apparent in exports to the rest of the euro area,” said Barclays Capital’s Marian Laboure. “Export demand both within Europe and particularly outside has been weakening. It is also worth observing Italian exports outside of Europe – these have fallen sharply, by 4.2 per cent in June and 5.8 per cent in July.”
Exports from France increased slightly, rising by 0.3 cent, according to the Directorate General of Customs and Excise. Imports increased by 2.9 per cent, countering June’s 2.8 per cent fall and taking the trade deficit up €1bn to €6.46bn.
However, export levels were the only strong point, with other figures weak across the board. Bank of France statistics, also out yesterday, show manufacturing confidence fell to a 22-month low while service output slipped in August.
The Bank cut France’s economic growth forecasts to 0.1 per cent for the third quarter, and revised figures from the national statistics body INSEE show 39,000 jobs were created in the second quarter. That compares with 84,600 in the first three months of the year.
“With the sharp worsening in unemployment in recent months, it appears that businesses had already expected weaker conditions ahead,” Laboure said. “The deterioration in the global environment, including the negative signals coming from European financial markets, are likely to continue to make businesses reluctant to take on new staff, creating a risk of a negative spiral.”