German industrial production down sharply in December

German industrial production unexpectedly dropped 3 percent in December compared with the previous month, apparently pushed lower by seasonal factors.

The figure released Tuesday by the Economy Ministry compared with economists' forecast of a 0.3 percent increase. It followed gains of 0.5 percent in each of the previous two months.

However, the outlook appears brighter given that data released Monday showed factory orders climbing 5.2 percent in December thanks to demand at home and from elsewhere in the eurozone — a far better performance than anticipated.

ING-DiBa economist Carsten Brzeski said that the December production drop "should be taken with a pinch of salt," with cold winter weather and the Christmas season likely the main reasons for the fall. Germany has Europe's biggest economy.