May 8, 2020 / 6:05 AM / 18 days ago

Finland's industrial output grew 2.8% in March despite coronavirus

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish industrial output rose 2.8 percent in March from a year earlier despite the coronavirus outbreak with chemicals surging, but new manufacturing orders fell by 9.3% in the same period, data from Statistics Finland showed on Friday.

“Corona (impact) is likely to be seen in Finland’s industrial production in April. Regardless, this is good news,” Markku Lehmus, head of forecasting at the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy Etla wrote on Twitter.

In nations such as Germany, industrial production had collapsed already in March, he added.

German industry output plunged 9.2% in March, its fastest decline since current records began in 1991, data showed on Thursday.

Seasonally adjusted industrial output grew most in the forest industry, by 39.6% from February to March, mainly thanks to recovery after strikes in February, Statistics Finland said.

In the chemical industry, output grew by 23.8% in March from the previous month, partially due to demand caused by the corona epidemic, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, it added.

But judging by exports, which are vital for Finland’s economy, the outlook for Finnish economy was gloomy.

The value of Finnish exports decreased by 8.8% while the value of imports decreased by 6.1% in March year-on-year, resulting in the trade balance being 270 million euros in deficit in March, Finnish Customs data showed.

In the first quarter from January to March, new manufacturing orders in Finland fell 5.6% year-on-year, the Statistics office said.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Toby Chopra

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