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BERLIN (AP) — German factory orders dropped steeply in October, pushed down by much lower demand from countries outside the euro area, according to official statistics released Monday.

The Economy Ministry said orders were down 6.9% compared with the previous month, the second big drop in three months. Orders fell 8.8% in August and gained 1.8% in September.

Factory orders are an important indicator for the German economy, Europe’s biggest. The latest figures come as business confidence is weighed down by persistent supply-chain bottlenecks and a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Demand for investment goods such as factory machinery was down 10.7% in October, the Economy Ministry said. The overall performance was dragged lower by an 18.1% drop in orders from countries outside the 19-nation eurozone and a 3.2% fall in orders from Germany’s eurozone partners. Domestic demand was up 3.4%.

The ministry said overall orders were 1% lower than a year earlier. It cautioned, however, that the index is volatile at the moment and recent developments “should not be overinterpreted.” It said that, if bulk orders were excluded, orders would have been down only 1.8% on the month.