German recession fears after ‘disastrous’ factory data
The slump in German factory output in October is so bad that it could drag the wider economy back towards recession.
Oliver Rakau of Oxford Economics says the plunge in production is “disastrous”, and could mean that the economy shrinks in the final quarter of this year.
Germany only just dodged a recession, with modest growth in Q3, but Q4 is not starting well. Earlier this week, factories reported a drop in orders, which could signal further weakness in the months ahead.
Here’s Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany, on the factory slump:
Today’s data suggests that the German economy is continuing to flirt with stagnation and contraction in the final quarter of the year.
Capacity utilisation has dropped to its lowest level since early 2013. At the same time, the well-known supply-side constraints have also started to ease but not with the same magnitude as capacity utilisation. The lack of skilled employees and too little equipment as limiting factors have dropped to their 2017-levels, suggesting that the current slump in manufacturing is still a combination of supply-side and demand-side factors.
Looking ahead, both soft and hard indicators bode ill for industrial activity in the months ahead. Production expectations show very tentative signs of stabilisation at low levels but order books are still shrinking and inventories remain high. Trade conflicts, global uncertainty and disruption in the automotive industry have put the entire German industry in a headlock, from which it is hard to escape.
Analysts: Biggest fall in German industrial production in a decade
Introduction: German industrial output falls sharply
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
2019 is turning into a year to forget for Germany. Factory output has slumped again as problems at home and abroad batter Europe’s largest economy.
Industrial output fell by 1.7% month-on-month in October, new figures show. That’s much worse than expected, showing that the recession across German factories hasn’t eased up.
On an annual basis, output was 5.3% lower than in October 2018, as trade tensions and problems in Germany’s car industry have hurt activity.
The decline was driven by a 4.4% month-on-month slide in production of capital goods — the pricy heavy-duty machinery and equipment that has been the bedrock of Germany’s economy.
Germany’s problems are part of a wider picture — manufacturing data has been weak around the globe this year as the world economy has slowed. But it has certainly suffered more than most.
Germany’s economy ministry fears that it could take several months for the situation to stabilise. It says:
“The economic weakness in industry remains.
However, the latest developments in new orders and business expectations indicate that a stabilising trend could emerge in the coming months.”
Reaction to follow….
Also coming up today
Investors will scrutinise the latest US jobs report for signs that America’s labour market is slowing.
Over in Vienna, Opec are trying to hammer out a 500,000 barrels/day cut to oil production levels. There’s clearly a disagreement over how to implement the deal — ministers talked late into the night, when they were due at a gala dinner to celebrate the success of the alliance #awkward .
European stock markets are expected to open higher, shaking off the jitters that sparked a selloff earlier this week. Traders are still hoping for progress in the US-China trade talks, before the 15 December deadline when Washington could impose new tariffs.
And the future of UK trucking business Eddie Stobart will be decided today, as shareholders vote on a rescue plan.
My colleague Jasper Jolly explains:
The vote will pit William Stobart, the third son of the company’s founder, against his childhood friend and former brother-in-law, Andrew Tinkler.
If their competing bids fall through, the company could collapse under the weight of a huge debt pile months before its 50th birthday.
- 1.30pm GMT: US non-farm payroll for November. Expected to show 183,000 new jobs created, up from 128,000