German industrial orders tumbled in August by their largest amount since the height of the global financial crisis in 2009, casting a shadow over Europe's largest economy at a time when Berlin faces pressure to loosen the fiscal reins and spend more.
Data from the German economy ministry showed contracts plunged 5.7 percent on the month, far weaker than a Reuters consensus forecast for a 2.5 percent drop.
Bookings from countries outside the euro zone plummeted 9.9 percent, while those from within the single currency bloc fell by 5.7 percent. Domestic orders also dipped by 2.0 percent.
"That clearly bodes ill for the fourth quarter," said Carsten Brzeski, senior economist at ING. "It's not only a Putin fear factor - Germany is also suffering from the weakness of its euro zone peers."
The German economy had a strong start to the year but shrank by 0.2 percent in the second quarter and some economists have warned it could contract again in the third quarter, pushing it into a technical recession.
The bad economic news comes at a time when Germany faces pressure from partners and the European Central Bank to spend more to help boost stalling European growth. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has said it has little wiggle room for stimulus given its promise to balance the federal budget next year.