German factory orders rebound in Jan, ahead of virus impact

The buildings of the banking district are seen after the sun set in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, Feb 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Probst) (Michael Probst, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

BERLIN – Factory orders in Germany rebounded strongly in January after two months of declines, official data showed Friday, but it remains to be seen what impact mounting concerns over the coronavirus outbreak will have on Europe's biggest economy.

Orders were up 5.5% compared with the previous month, the Economy Ministry said. They were led higher by a 15.1% surge in demand from other countries in the 19-nation eurozone. Orders from other countries were up 7.8% while those from within Germany declined 1.3%.

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Orders had dropped by 2.1% in December and 0.8% in January. In December, demand from other eurozone countries dropped 14%.

The ministry said January's performance was boosted by an above-average number of bulk orders but, on the whole, orders have stabilized over recent months. It noted that companies' business expectations have been on the rise but it remains to be seen what effect new risks linked to the coronavirus have.

Germany's economy has grown for 10 consecutive years but last year's 0.6% growth was already the weakest since 2013. There was zero growth in the fourth quarter.

Exports are an important factor in Germany's economy. Germany also has confirmed more than 500 infections at home with the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness.

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