FRANKFURT -- A drop in orders from abroad hit Germany's key mechanical engineering sector in November, following two months of strong increases, the industry federation said on Thursday.

Incoming orders fell by 3% in November from the level in the same month of 2011, the VDMA association said.

Foreign orders dropped 4% while domestic orders were down 2%.

"After two consecutive monthly increases, incoming orders in the mechanical engineering sector in November 2012 fell just short of previous levels," said VDMA chief economist Ralph Wiechers.

Regarding export orders, "the unusually high number of orders from outside the eurozone seen in September and October could not be repeated. Domestic orders continued to stabilize. All in all, November brought no new surprises, either positive or negative," Wiechers said.

Taking a three-month comparison to iron out short-term fluctuations, overall orders were up 5% in the period from September to November, with foreign orders up 10%, while domestic orders declined by 6%, VDMA calculated.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013