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German Factory Orders Plunge as Economy Stumbles

German factory orders plummeted by 6.9 percent in December as the global economic crisis tightened its grip on Europe's biggest economy.

Workers assemble mobile phones at Nokia factory, Bochum-Riemke, Germany

The drop in factory orders was greater than expected by industry analysts

The seasonally adjusted fall in the nation's key industrial orders in December was far more than the 2.5 percent that analysts had forecast. The fall represented the 12th consecutive monthly decrease in German order books.

The drop in factory orders could be taken as a harbinger for further falls in German output, with figures to be released Friday, February 6, tipped to show industrial production in the nation falling by 2.5 percent in December.

The decline in December followed a revised 5.3 percent drop in November, the Economics and Technology Ministry reported.

Leading the fall in December factory orders was a 15.2-percent plunge in orders from Germany's partners in the 16-member euro zone during December.

Volatile indicator

Industrial orders are considered by analysts to be a key, if volatile, economic indicator. The ministry said that orders from non-eurozone states dropped by 5.1 percent in December.

While total foreign orders tumbled by 9.1 percent, domestic orders in December slumped by 4.3 percent during the month.

The ministry said German orders were down 11.6 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the three months to the end of September. The figures underscored the dramatic decline in the global economy towards the end of 2008.

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