German exports fall at fastest pace since Dec 2011
The trade figures come after a string of disappointing data from Europe's economic powerhouse, where business sentiment has worsened, the private sector has contracted, joblessness has risen and industrial orders have fallen at their sharpest rate in a year.
The debt crisis has arrived in Germany: At year-end 2012, weaker demand from abroad comes on top of uncertainty that has weighed on investments since the summer of 2011, said Andreas Scheuerle at Dekabank.
Imports fell 1.6 percent and exports declined 2.5 percent, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Thursday, undercutting forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists for declines of 0.1 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.
The seasonally-adjusted trade surplus narrowed to 17.0 billion euros from 18.1 billion in August. The consensus forecast was for it to narrow to 16.8 billion euros.
For a long time Germany's economy seemed impervious to the euro zone's troubles, but it is now succumbing and many economists expect it to contract in the fourth quarter.
Exports had managed to hold up fairly well this year, and have fallen in only four out of nine months, as demand from Asia has compensated for a weaker appetite in European countries struggling with austerity measures.
But Thursday's data suggests this will no longer suffice.
Germany's export-oriented companies have bemoaned weakening demand from Europe during this earnings
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