FRANKFURT (AP) -- German iron and steel production fell sharply in February as the economic crisis crimped demand, the Federal Statistical Office said Friday.
The office said iron production fell 36 percent to 1.5 million tons, while raw steel production declined 32 percent to 2.6 million tons compared with February in 2008.
Compared with January 2009, February iron production dropped 14 percent and steel production declined 3.3 percent.
Germany is the world's largest exporter, with its machinery and cars still leading the way, but declining sales, especially at car companies, have been acute.
Last month, the statistical office confirmed that economic output during the October through December period contracted 2.1 percent compared with the previous quarter, hurt by a 7.3 percent slump in exports, which had long been the mainstay of Germany's growth.
Earlier in the week, the statistical office said wholesale sales of raw materials and components -- an early indicator of industrial production -- fell 4.6 in January, compared with the same month in 2008.
Also this week, the VDMA, a machinery industry trade group, said January orders for machinery and factory equipment declined 42 percent. The VDMA has also said it expected the machinery and factory equipment industry to record a 7 percent fall in overall production in 2009, the sharpest drop since 1993.
Separately, the statistical office said Friday that the number of combined business and personal insolvencies declined 6.5 percent in 2008 compared with 2007 and that the number of persons employed in the services sector rose 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.