German industrial production unexpectedly rises 1.2 percent in March, another positive signal

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German industrial production increased by 1.2 percent in March compared with the previous month — an unexpectedly robust performance that adds to this week's upbeat signals for Europe's biggest economy.

Economists had forecast that production would decline by 0.1 percent in March. Instead, the Economy Ministry reported another increase following a 0.6 percent rise in February — a figure revised upward Wednesday from the initial reading of 0.5 percent.

The German economy is in better shape than many others in the euro area and is believed to have returned to growth in the first quarter after shrinking in last year's final three months.

Data released Tuesday showed a healthy order pipeline — with industrial orders increasing 2.2 percent in March following an identical rise in February.