German industrial production down 9.2% in March on virus

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BERLIN (AP) — Industrial production in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, dropped 9.2% in March compared with the previous month as shutdowns around the continent and elsewhere started to bite, official data showed Thursday.

The figures reported by the Economy Ministry came a day after data showing that factory orders plunged 15.6% in March — the month in which the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe. Italy and then other countries began imposing sweeping restrictions on public life and businesses that month.

Germany started shutting down in mid-March. Authorities never ordered factories closed, but companies did stop production in some areas — such as the automaking sector — and supply chains were disrupted.

Thursday’s figures showed a relatively modest 1.2% decline in production in the first quarter compared with last year’s fourth quarter. But the Economy Ministry cautioned that “a significantly stronger slump in production” can be expected for April.

Germany and many other European countries are now in the process of gradually loosening restrictions imposed in March, but the economic impact is expected to be deep.

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