FRANKFURT -- Falling export demand hit Germany's key mechanical engineering sector in March, the VDMA industry federation said on Wednesday.
The manufacture of machine tools is an important part of Germany's industrial and export performance.
In March, overall incoming orders were down by 6% compared with the same month a year earlier, VDMA said in a statement, with export orders falling by 13%, while domestic orders were up by 13%.
Taking a three-month comparison to iron out short-term fluctuations, overall orders were down by 120% in the period from January to March.
Foreign orders fell by 4%, but domestic orders rose by 3%, VDMA calculated.
VDMA's chief economist Ralph Wiechers explained that the sharp decline in foreign orders was partly attributable to the distortedly high number of orders last year.
But "on the whole, business with overseas customers remains sluggish," Wiechers said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014