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German trade blossoms in May as recession anxieties wilt: statistics

BERLIN -- German exports bounded ahead at their fastest pace in more than a year in May, while imports surged by 6.2 percent on the previous month, the country's statistics office said Monday.

The data added to signs that Europe's biggest economy will avoid the recession gripping parts of the eurozone.

Exports jumped by 3.9 percent amid strong demand from outside Europe, while imports raced ahead at their fastest rate in two years. Germany is the world's largest exporter after China.

“(German) exports are still quite robust,” said Commerzbank economist Ulrike Rondorf, adding that evidence of slowing global economic growth resulting from disappointing data from the United States and Asia had still not left its mark on the nation's export machine.

The bigger-than-forecast rise in exports during May followed a 1.7-percent slump in April. Analysts had expected exports to rise by just 0.4 percent in May. Imports shrank by 4.9 percent in April.

The latest data meant that the German trade surplus narrowed to 15 billion euros (US$18.43 billion) in May from 16.2 billion euros in April, the statistics office said.

The publication of the trade data followed the release of figures last week by the Ministry of Economics showing both industrial production and factory orders also rebounding more than forecast in May.

According to Monday's data from the statistics office, exports to nations outside of Europe gained 3.4 percent on the year in May and soared 9.4 percent during the first five months of the year. This includes exports to both the U.S. and the world's leading emerging economies such as China and Brazil.

However, exports to Germany's main trading partners in the eurozone fell 2.3 percent year on year in May as the debt crisis that has engulfed the currency bloc hit demand.

Exports to the eurozone were down 0.6 percent in the first five months of 2012 compared to the same period last year.

This came as governments across the currency bloc rolled out a round of tough fiscal austerity aimed at slashing back high debt-and-deficit levels.

But underlying Germany's role as Europe's powerhouse economy, imports from the eurozone year-on-year edged down 0.6 percent. They increased 2.4 percent over the first five months of 2012.

Compared with May 2011, total German exports increased by 0.5 percent, while imports fell by 0.2 percent.

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