FRANKFURT -- Weighed down by slumping demand in the key construction sector, German industrial output took another tumble in October, official data showed on Friday.

Industrial production contracted by 2.6% in October compared with September after already falling by 1.3% the previous month, the economy ministry said.

The drop was bigger than expected. Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had been penciling in a very modest decline of 0.2%.

The sharp decline came as even more as a surprise after the ministry calculated a day earlier that industrial orders notched up their strongest growth in nearly two years in October thanks to surging demand for German-made goods outside the euro area.

But the production data were gloomier.

Manufacturing output fell 2.4% month-on-month, weighed down by a drop in production of semi-finished, consumer and capital goods.

Energy output was also down 3.2% and construction output fell by as much as 5.3%.

"The industry sector has gotten off to a weak start in the fourth quarter," the ministry wrote.

"Despite the rise in industrial orders in October, the overall trend suggests that manufacturing and construction production will remain subdued for now," it said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012