German industrial output fell unexpectedly in January, dragged down by a sharp fall in activity in the construction sector due to cold weather, data showed on Monday. Output in the industrial sector, including manufacturing, construction and energy, was down 2.5% on the month, data released by the Federal Statistics Office showed. A Reuters poll had forecast an increase of 0.2%. The December figure was revised up to 1.9% from a previously reported unchanged reading. In the less volatile two-month comparison, industrial output rose 1.4% in December and January, the economy ministry said. The drop in January was driven by a plunge of more than 12% in construction while output in the manufacturing sector only fell by 0.5%, the ministry said. “Despite the measures taken to contain the pandemic, output in manufacturing posted only a small decline in January which was mainly due to semiconductor shortages in the automotive industry,” the economy ministry said. Machinery manufacturers recorded a noticeable increase in output, it added. “The further outlook for the industrial sector remains neutral for the time being,” the ministry said, adding that strong foreign demand was offset by weak domestic demand caused by measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.