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German economy shrinks 2.2% in 1st quarter as virus hits

BERLIN — The German economy shrank by 2.2% in the first quarter compared with the previous three-month period as shutdowns in the country and beyond started to bite, official data showed Friday.

BERLIN — The German economy shrank by 2.2% in the first quarter compared with the previous three-month period as shutdowns in the country and beyond started to bite, official data showed Friday.

The figures from the Federal Statistical Office offered a first glimpse of the damage caused by the coronavirus crisis to Europe’s biggest economy, which the government is trying to limit with a raft of rescue programs.

The decline in the January-March period was the biggest since 2009.

March was the month in which the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe, with first Italy and then other countries imposing sweeping restrictions on public life and businesses. Germany itself started shutting down in mid-March. It never ordered factories closed, but companies did largely stop production in some areas — such as the automaking sector — and supply chains were disrupted.

Recent data showed a 15.6% month-on-month decrease in factory orders in March, and a 9.2% drop in industrial production.

The country started loosening restrictions on April 20 and the process has gathered pace recently. Shops have now reopened, restaurants are gradually opening up and auto production has restarted.

The Associated Press

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