EXPORTS from Europe's largest economy unexpectedly increased for a third month in March as demand from outside the euro region offset weaker sales in Europe.
Exports, adjusted for work days and seasonal changes, rose 0.9pc from February, when they gained 1.5pc, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said yesterday. Economists had forecast a drop of 0.5pc. Imports climbed 1.2pc.
Yesterday's report is the third in as many days to suggest Germany may have returned to growth in the first quarter after the economy shrank in the final three months of 2011. Factory orders and industrial production both rose more than economists forecast in March.
"The indicators clearly confirm our view that the German economy did not slide into a technical recession at the turn of the year," said Alexander Koch, an economist at UniCredit Group in Munich.
The trade surplus widened to €17.4bn in March from €14.9bn in February, the report showed. The surplus in the current account, a measure of all trade including services, was €19.8bn, up from €11.7bn a month earlier. The statistics office said exports and imports both reached record monthly values in March.
With at least eight euro-region nations in recession, German companies are tapping faster-growing Asian markets.