Germany's trade surplus shrank in March after exports again fell, data showed Friday, in another indication the Ukraine crisis is beginning to hurt Europe's top economy.
Germany posted a trade surplus of 14.8 billion euros ($20.5 billion), down from the slightly revised figure for February of 15.8 billion euros, the official data showed.
The figure, which allows for seasonal blips, was below forecasts of analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.
German exports fell 1.8 percent in March to 91.6 billion euros, while imports slipped 0.9 percent compared to the previous month, to 76.7 billion euros, the federal statistics office Destatis said.
In unadjusted terms, the German trade surplus stood at 16.4 billion euros, a slight increase from the February level.
Germany has come under fire for its large trade surplus, with critics arguing that its economic might comes at the expense of the eurozone's weaker members.
Carsten Brzeski, of ING-DiBa, said the monthly fall in exports was the biggest since May 2013 and confirmed "the shot-across-the-bow feeling" from other industrial data this week.
"As already reflected in other industrial data, the month (of) March saw a stronger real economic impact from the Ukrainian crisis and the Chinese slowdown than confidence indicators had suggested," Brzeski said.
Data released Thursday showed that industrial output fell by 0.5 percent in March after rising slightly in February, due to lower manufacturing and construction output.
And industrial orders, a key measure of demand for German-made goods, took an unexpected and marked hit in March due to concerns over the turmoil in Ukraine, figures released a day earlier showed.
BayernLB economist Stefan Kipar agreed that "geopolitical uncertainty" had dampened exports in March and said that the eurozone's economic revival couldn't yet make up for the weakness of emerging markets.
Germany's exports to other eurozone countries nudged up 0.1 percent in March compared to the same month a year earlier, but jumped 10.4 percent to other EU countries.
Meanwhile imports to Germany from the eurozone grew 2.3 percent in March from a year earlier and 10.8 percent from the rest of the EU.
Johannes Gareis, of Natixis, said the trade figures confirmed expectations that "external trade will be a marked drag" on Germany's first-quarter gross domestic product growth.
Although German exports are expected to again gain momentum, he said, he did not see external trade being a key driver of German growth over the year "as imports continue to be strong on the back of Germany's buoyant domestic economy".
A provisional figure for first-quarter German GDP is due to be published next week.