German imports climbed in February. Adjusted for seasonal factors like weather, imports were up by 0.4 percent at 77.6 billion euros.
That took them to their highest level since the Federal Statistics Office started compiling data for the reunified Germany 23 years ago.
At the same time exports fell by a larger-than-expected 1.3 percent. They had been forecast to decline by 0.5 percent.
Economists linked that to the turbulence in emerging markets as well as the Crimea crisis.
Overall the figures are a sign that domestic demand in Europe’s largest economy is gathering pace, something the German government expects will drive growth this year.
“Imports grew because consumers are consuming more and companies are investing more. This trend of imports growing more quickly than exports should continue,” said Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank.
“That’s a good sign for domestic demand. That helps the eurozone crisis countries to grow their way our of the crisis with exports.”
A breakdown of unadjusted data showed eurozone countries are selling more to Germany. Imports from the single currency bloc were up 8.4 percent on the year in February, showing some rebalancing of the region’s economy.