German exports in January fell by the largest amount since August, dropping far more than forecast.

The figures put a damper on expectations that Europe's largest economy would expand robustly in the first quarter after a strong end to last year. 

Seasonally-adjusted exports decreased by 2.1% on the month after a downwardly revised 2.8% gain in December, data from the statistics office showed. 

That compared with the Reuters consensus forecast for a 1.5% drop and undershot even the lowest estimate for a 2% decline. 

Imports slipped by 0.3%, missing the Reuters consensus forecast for a 0.5% gain. 

The trade surplus for January narrowed to €19.7 billion from a revised €21.6 billion in December, today's figures show.