BERLIN - German exports posted their biggest rise in almost two years in September, data showed on Friday, providing some relief amid widespread concerns that Europe's largest economy will dip into recession in the third quarter.
The Federal Statistics Office said seasonally adjusted exports increased by 1.5% on the month. That was their biggest increase since November 2017 and compared with economist expectations for a rise of 0.4%.
"This looks like a revival in foreign trade but looking at the whole year, September is more of an outlier," said Jens-Oliver Niklasch, economist at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg.
He said foreign trade had been rather weak throughout 2019, adding: "The risks in overseas trade have got smaller but have not yet disappeared."
Germany's export-reliant manufacturers have been suffering from a slowing world economy and business uncertainty linked to a trade war between the United States and China, and Britain's planned, if delayed, exit from the European Union.
The economy shrank by 0.1% in the second quarter, and recent data have suggested manufacturing fared badly in the third, which could put Germany in recession - usually defined as two straight quarters of contraction.
A panel of economists advising the government on Wednesday said Germany's long-term upswing had come to an end and warned that the export-oriented German economy was particularly at risk from a possible escalation of the trade conflicts. But they did not expect a "broad and deep recession".
Other data published this week has painted a mixed picture of the industrial sector, with output falling more than forecast in September while orders rose more than forecast. And a survey showed Germany's manufacturers remained stuck in recession in October as new orders fell.
Friday's data showed imports climbed by 1.3% in September. The trade surplus widened to 19.2 billion euros from an upwardly revised 18.7 billion euros in the prior month. Economists polled by Reuters had expected imports to be unchanged and saw the trade surplus at 18.1 billion euros.
(Editing by Alex Richardson) ((MichelleHannah.Martin@thomsonreuters.com; +49 30 2888 5223; Reuters Messaging: MichelleHannah.Martin.email@example.com))