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.
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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.