German Industrial Orders Up In September

Industrial orders increased 0.9 percent in September thanks to strong foreign demand, offering another sign that Europe's biggest economy is gaining momentum.

BERLIN (AP) -- German industrial orders increased again in September thanks to strong foreign demand, official figures showed Friday, offering another sign that Europe's biggest economy is gaining momentum.

Orders were up 0.9 percent on the month, the Economy Ministry said. It revised upward the monthly rise in August to 2.1 percent from an initial reading of 1.4 percent.

Germany's export-fueled economy returned to modest growth in the second quarter following a deep recession. Preliminary third-quarter figures are due next week and are expected to show further growth.

September's rise in industrial orders was fueled by strong foreign demand, with orders from abroad increasing by 3.7 percent. Orders from Germany's partners in the 15-nation euro zone led the way, rising by 6 percent.

However, domestic demand was slacker. Orders from inside Germany were down 2.3 percent on the month, due in part to decreasing orders for cars and auto parts after a government car-scrapping bonus program expired.

In contrast, the machine-building sector performed particularly strongly, registering an 8.3 percent increase in orders.

The overall increase was largely in line with economists' consensus expectation of a 1 percent rise.

Economist Andreas Rees at UniCredit in Munich, who had predicted a small decline, said that "momentum is currently very strong in the German economy" amid increasingly broad-based demand from abroad.

"After today's figure, it is a done deal that the upswing will carry over into the fourth quarter ... and also probably into the beginning of next year," Rees wrote in a research note.

Despite the return to growth, the government and economists still are forecasting that gross domestic product will shrink by 5 percent this year as a whole compared with 2008.

Industrial orders in September were still 13.1 percent below their level a year earlier -- an improvement on a 19.8 percent annual drop in August.

In a separate report Friday, the Federal Statistical Office said the number of German companies filing for bankruptcy protection was up 12.3 percent on the year in August to 2,619.

Over the first eight months of the year, 21,807 bankruptcies were registered.

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