German exports rise more than expected

Truck crossing German border into Denmark
Image caption Analysts said the figures were a "positive surprise"

German exports increased by 2.5% in November, reaching 94.9bn euros ($121bn; £78.4bn), the country's Federal Statistics Office has said.

The gain was bigger than the 0.7% rise forecast by analysts, and suggests that Europe's biggest economy may have performed better in the fourth quarter than expected.

Imports, which had also been forecast to rise, fell 0.4% month-on-month.

The country's trade surplus widened to 15.1bn euros as a result.

However, separate figures from the Economy Ministry showed that industrial output fell 0.6% in November.

This followed data released on Friday that showed industrial orders had fallen in November by the most in almost three years, dropping by 4.8% on the previous month, as demand from abroad slowed down.

'Hopes raised'

Juergen Michels at Citigroup said the latest trade data was "a positive surprise".

"It raises hope that the decline of GDP at the end of the year was only relatively small," he said.

But he added: "If you look at the development of orders, exports should be weaker in the coming months. You can expect an increase in 2012 but to a lower degree than in the last year."

Compared with November 2010, exports rose by 8.3% and imports by 6.7%.

Fourth quarter and annual GDP data for Germany is due on Wednesday. Economists are forecasting growth of 3% for the whole of 2011.

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