Orders slump as Germany’s manufacturers bear the brunt of escalating trade spat
The economy ministry says trade policy uncertainty played a role in the fall in orders as demand from non-eurozone countries led the slide
Frankfurt — German manufacturers took a hit in June as a slide in overseas demand knocked factory orders amid escalating trade tension.
Orders fell 4% from the previous month — eight times as much as forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists — and the 0.8% drop from a year ago was the first annual decline since July 2016. The economy ministry acknowledged that "uncertainty from trade policy played a role" as demand from non-eurozone countries led the slide.
While the figures predate July’s agreement by the US and EU to hold off from further tariffs as long as negotiations are ongoing, they highlight the potential for trade spats to dent Europe’s largest economy. German business sentiment has been eroded since the turn of the year, with companies expressing concern over the outlook.
BMW joined carmakers from around the world last week in warning that trade tensions could drag down profits in the coming months. The company is also worried about escalating US-China trade threats as it ships sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to China from its South Carolina plant.
"Today’s new orders data do not bode well for German industry going into the second half of the year," said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING-Diba in Frankfurt.
The economy ministry’s report showed overseas orders fell 4.7% in June, with demand from non-eurozone nations slumping 5.9%. Worrying signs also came from investment goods — which slipped 4.7% — and a 2.8% drop in domestic orders. Total orders sank 1.5% in the first half of the year.
Figures on industrial production and trade are due on Tuesday, with economists predicting that output dropped 0.5% in June and exports fell 0.4%. Second-quarter economic growth data will be published on August 14.