German factory orders pick up in March thanks to demand at home, but rise less than expected

BERLIN – Factory orders in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, picked up in March after two consecutive declines thanks to higher domestic demand — but the improvement was smaller than economists expected.

The Economy Ministry said Thursday that orders were up 0.9 per cent over the previous month after declining by the same amount in February. Economists had predicted a 1.5 per cent rise.

Orders from inside Germany were up 4.3 per cent and those from other countries in the 19-nation eurozone rose 2.5 per cent, but demand from countries outside the eurozone sagged by 4 per cent. The ministry said there was an above-average number of orders for big-ticket items.

UniCredit economist Andreas Rees pointed to the U.S. economy’s near-stagnation in the first quarter and a slowdown in emerging markets as reasons for lower recent foreign demand.