German industrial orders unexpectedly dropped in February due to weaker foreign demand, particularly from euro zone countries, data showed today.

This suggested a global slowdown and market turmoil is leaving its mark on Europe's biggest economy. 

Contracts for 'Made in Germany' goods were down 1.2% on the month, the Economy Ministry said, marking the biggest monthly fall in six months. 

That compared with a Reuters consensus forecast for a rise of 0.2%. 

The data adds depth to a picture of waning demand from abroad and follows surveys showed the manufacturing sector got off to a sluggish start in the first quarter. 

German factories got 2.7% fewer bookings from abroad, driven by a 3.7% slide in demand from euro zone countries. Orders were cushioned slightly by domestic demand, which rose by 0.9%. 

Germany's domestic growth has been playing an increasingly important role in driving expansion as the country's traditional export motor slows. 

n a sign that weak foreign demand from China and other emerging markets held back growth at the start of 2016, German exports dropped for the second consecutive month in January while imports jumped more than expected. 

The German Economy Ministry said the subdued start to the year for industrial orders reflected the sluggish global economy. 

But it noted that the picture was blurred by a fluctuation in large orders and said business morale in the sector had brightened of late. 

"In general a moderate upwards trend in industrial activity is to be expected," the ministry said. 

The data for January was revised up to a rise of 0.5% from a previously reported dip of 0.1%.