Industrial orders in Europe's powerhouse Germany saw a sharp fall in February – the second month of decline in a row – as signs of slowing growth multiply in the euro zone.
New orders fell 4.2% month-on-month, federal statistics authority Destatis said in preliminary figures adjusted for price, seasonal and calendar effects.
The reading disappointed expectations for a 0.5-percent rebound from analysts surveyed by Factset.
"Lower orders could be observed in most economic sectors, from at home as well as abroad," the economy ministry in Berlin said in a statement.
Looking to different areas of the economy, capital goods makers were the worst hit in February with a 6% drop in orders. This included a 9.2% fall in contracts from non-eurozone countries.
The picture of a strong fall in demand from nations outside the 19-country single currency bloc was repeated at consumer goods firms, which saw orders fall 3.5% overall.
Meanwhile makers of producer goods were the most resilient with a drop of only 0.9%.
Industry is currently "almost in freefall", economist Jens-Oliver Niklasch of LBBW bank commented.
"Much of this can likely be traced back to elevated uncertainty related to Brexit" given the plunge in non-euro zone orders, he argued.
With high stocks of existing orders, "for now there don't seem to be any effects on the labour market," Niklasch noted.
"Things can't stay that way forever though. Let's hope that London gives the green light for a deal with the EU soon," he added.