Orders fell by a much bigger-than-expected 4.8% in November compared to a month earlier, hit by falling orders from abroad, new data showed on Jan. 6.
An increase in orders for October was also revised slightly downwards to 5% from 5.2%, according to the figures released by the Economy Ministry.
Orders from abroad slumped by 7.8% in November while those from Germany fell by 1.1%, the ministry said.
"Even without taking into account big orders, the dynamic of demand is currently weak. In line with forecasts, that signifies limited development for industrial production during the winter months," it said.
For the period of October to November compared to the two-month period of August-September, manufacturing orders rose by 0.2%.
However Christian Schulz, analyst at Berenberg Bank, said that leading indicators suggested that German industrial output remained "fairly resilient."
"However this export-dependent sector will eventually suffer from the weakness of important debt-crisis-hit trading partners and is likely to drag the German economy into contraction in Q1 2012," he said.
And Andreas Rees, an economist at UniCredit, said the figure for manufacturing orders did not necessarily spell looming doom and gloom. "The latest strong decline is not a harbinger of a nasty recession but above all a technical payback after the tremendous rise in the previous month."
Better-than-expected German jobless data earlier this week showed Europe's biggest economy appeared to be holding up to the debt crisis.
Other figures revealed German consumption was at its strongest level for more than a decade in 2011 and new car registrations, a key gauge of demand in one of the country's most important industrial sectors, rose in December and over the whole of 2011.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011