German industrial orders declined by 2.1 percent during October, due mostly to weaker demand from other European countries, preliminary official data showed Monday.
Economists said the decline, which followed seven consecutive months of increases, likely was only a temporary blip as Europe's biggest economy recovers.
The drop followed an increase of 1.3 percent in September, revised upward from the 0.9 percent initially reported, the Economy Ministry said.
Orders from abroad were down 3.5 percent on the month in October, with those from Germany's partners in the 16-nation euro zone falling 5.5 percent. Orders from inside Germany were down a modest 0.5 percent.
Demand for so-called investment goods such as machinery saw the strongest fall, declining by 4.5 percent. The Economy Ministry said that reflected a sharp fall in orders for new vehicles.
In Germany, a government car-scrapping bonus plan expired at the beginning of September after giving sales of new cars a boost for much of this year.
Despite the setback in October, the Economy Ministry said that the trend in orders remains upward and that a recovery in industrial production should continue in the current quarter "with weakened dynamism."
The figures offered "an ugly reminder of what happens when the fiscal stimulus package is fizzling out," said Andreas Rees, an economist at UniCredit in Munich.
However, he said he was sticking to a forecast of "still strong momentum in the overall economy at the turn of the year," with exports remaining the major driver.
"Today's numbers are a good reminder that a recovery never follows a straight line," said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING in Brussels. "However, it should rather be a pause of the trend than a reversal."
Germany's export-fueled economy emerged from recession in this year's second quarter.
In a separate report Monday, the Federal Statistical Office said that German steel production was up in November.
German mills produced 2.49 million tons (2.26 million metric tons) of pig iron, an 8.1 percent increase over November 2008. They produced 3.9 million tons (3.53 million metric tons) of raw steel, an 8 percent increase.
Compared with October, production of pig iron was up 7 percent while raw steel was up 2.4 percent.
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