As Italy struggles to pull itself out of a recession, it saw the thirteenth drop in a row for industrial orders on a 12-month comparison.
Industrial orders plunged by 12.8% in September from the level 12 months earlier and by 4.0 percent from the August figure, the official data agency Istat said on Monday.
On a monthly comparison, orders had risen in August and July.
Slumping internal demand was a key factor, Istat said, as the country reigns in spending amid government imposed austerity measures and budget cuts.
Orders from within Italy were down 15.8% on a year, and 1.4% on a month.
Those from abroad were down 8.1% on a year and 7.4% on a month, as the eurozone debt crisis continued to hit the world economy.
Sales in the industrial sector dropped 5.4% from activity in September 2011 and by 4.2% in the month, Istat said.
The country slumped into a recession at the end of 2011 and the government does not expect a return to growth before 2013.
Prime Minister Mario Monti's technocrat government has been racing to bring Italy's vast debt under control with a series of biting measures and reforms.
While international observers and the markets have been reassured by Monti's efforts to stave off the crisis, many are concerned that the end of his term in early 2013 may open the way for a government determined to undo his reforms.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012