Germany's manufacturing industry took a surprise hit in April as factory orders fell, denting hopes of another quarter of impressive economic growth.
New orders with German manufacturers fell two per cent between March and April, according to statistics released this morning, as weaker overseas demand could knock the German economy in the second quarter.
Domestic orders grew by 1.3 per cent but commitments from foreign buyers dropped by 4.3 per cent over the month.
The fall was significantly sharper than the 0.5 per cent decline pencilled in by economists. However, it was partly accounted for a substantial upwards revision in the previous month's figures, which accentuated the decline over the period.
Over the past year new manufacturing orders have dropped by 0.6 per cent, led down by a 2.2 per cent decline in the value of orders placed from overseas.
The sluggish foreign demand largely came from Germany's non-Eurozone trading partners. Orders from the rest of the Eurozone grew by 2.5 per cent, while from the rest of the world they shrunk by 8.3 per cent.
The figures raise doubts over whether Germany can kick on from its impressive economic performance in the first quarter of the year.