German industrial output unexpectedly slumps in February

BERLIN, April 6 (Reuters) - German industrial output fell by the biggest amount in 2-1/2 years in February, data showed on Friday, as factories in Europe’s largest economy throttled back in the face of the rising threat of protectionism.

Output fell by 1.6 percent after rising by a revised 0.1 percent in January, data from the Economy Ministry showed. February’s drop was the biggest since August 2015 and compared with a Reuters consensus forecast for a rise of 0.3 percent.

A breakdown of the data showed a big slump in the production of capital goods, down 3.1 percent on the month, with output of consumer goods falling 1.5 percent and intermediate goods down 0.7 percent. Construction activity was also weaker overall.

“Industrial production has lost momentum. However, the good orders situation and the positive mood among companies suggest the industrial sector will remain on an upward path,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Growth momentum is nonetheless likely to be weaker than in the previous year,” it added.

Writing by Paul Carrel