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Economy in Brief

German IP Continues Its Recovery Run Ahead of Russian Invasion of Ukraine
by Robert Brusca  April 7, 2022

German industrial production advanced by 0.2% in February. Its rise followed a 1.4% gain in January and a 0.9% gain in December. Industrial output in Germany is accelerating from a 3% pace over 12 months to a 9.3% annual rate over six months to a 10.7% annual rate over three months. Despite infections with the virus and despite the increasingly dangerous situation in Ukraine during that period, Germany has continued to rebound. As the war in Ukraine started in late-February, the German economy seems to have put itself on firm footing.

German IP is accelerating and looks very solid
The output gained in the headline is supported by all the main sectors on trend. In February, two of three sectors made month-to-month gains: consumer goods and intermediate goods saw output rise with capital goods output falling back by 2%. However, from 12-months to six-months to three-months consumer goods output is accelerating from an annual rate of 10.7% to 14.9% to 25.8%. Capital goods output falls over 12 months declining by 2.1%. But then it accelerates to a 9.8% pace over six months but does step back to a growth rate of just 4.2% over three months. Intermediate goods advance at a 1.3% pace over 12 months, accelerate to 5.2% over six months and accelerate further to 9.0% over three months. Two of three industrial sectors support the acceleration in the headline. German acceleration backsliding in capital goods interrupts the trend of sector acceleration in output over three months. And that backsliding is to a growth rate that sill registers 4.2% growth at an annual rate over three months-still quite solid.

German manufacturing gauges mostly show growth
Manufacturing output was flat in February after gains of 0.6% in January and 1.6% in December. So, during this monthly period, the growth in manufacturing was slowing; however, more broadly, manufacturing output accelerates from 1.4% over 12 months to a pace of 8.6% over six months to a pace of 9.2% over three months. Similarly, real manufacturing orders in Germany grow by 2.9% over 12 months, accelerate to 4.8% over six months and accelerate further to 10.2% over three months. However, real sector sales are a little more uneven; they're growing on all the horizons, but the 4.3% growth over 12 months is still slightly higher than the 4% growth rate over three months.

German indicators are mixed
German industrial indicators show mixed performance during the period. The ZEW index is an exception, logging negative readings in each of the last three months. Despite those negative readings, the ZEW index improved slightly to -8.1 in February from -10.2 in January. The IFO gauge for manufacturing improved in February and the expectations gauge for manufacturing also improved in February although the EU Commission industrial index slipped slightly from 24.2 in January to 23.7 in February. Looking at the averages of 12-months to six-months to three-months, the ZEW average is weaker over three months than it is over 12 months. The IFO manufacturing index is slightly weaker over three months as its average falls to 103 when averaged over three months compared to a 12-month average of 104.2. The IFO manufacturing expectations are also weaker at 101.8 over three months compared to a 12-month average of 103.7. The EU Commission index is slightly stronger at 24.4 average over three months compared to 21.8 over 12 months.

Other Europe is mixed
Turning to early-February reports from other European countries, there are five others that are reporting. Norway and France show output declines in February; Ireland, Portugal, and Sweden show increases in February. However, the countries that show increases in February show declines in January and vice versa. So, what we're looking at in Europe is monthly volatility. Looking at annualized growth rates over 12 months, six months and three months, there is not a lot of strength. Portugal, Sweden, and Norway log three-month growth rates that are all negative Norway, in fact, shows negative growth rates over three months, six months and 12 months. In contrast, France shows positive growth rates throughout; it is improving over three months compared to 12 months, rising from 3.4% over 12 months to a 7.3% pace over three months. Ireland shows acceleration, moving from -15.4% over 12 months to -12.1% over six months to log a spectacular annualized gain of 32.9% over three months.

Quarter-to-date
German IP orders and real sales: In the quarter-to-date, most German IP responses are strong. Germany shows industrial output increasing in a 9.1% pace QTD, led by consumer goods that are rising strongly at a 37.6% annual rate but held back somewhat by capital goods where output is declining at a 5.5% annual rate. Manufacturing output is increasing at a 5.8% annual rate in the quarter-to-date with real manufacturing orders up at a 0.5% pace, but real sector sales are falling at a 0.4% annual rate.

German indicators: German indicators show mixed performance QTD; the ZEW index is down by 6.4 points in the quarter-to-date and the EU Commission index is down by 0.4 points in the quarter-to-date. The two IFO gauges for manufacturing and manufacturing expectations each show a gain of 2.4 points on the quarter.

Other Europe QTD-the good, the bad, and the homely: Turning to other Europe, Ireland shows an outstanding rise of 69.2% in an annual rate followed by France at an 8.4% pace of gain QTD; Norway’s rise is at a 5.8% pace, Portugal shows output receding at a 15.2% annual rate, Sweden shows output declining at a 4% annual rate.

European industrial data are firm ahead of the Ukraine-Russia outbreak
These data set us up to assess the pre-Ukraine-Russia war standing of industry in Germany and select countries in Europe. Conditions rate firm-to-strong amid some variability- as always. The March reports will be more telling.

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