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BERLIN (AP) — German factory orders, an important indicator for Europe’s biggest economy, dipped in April after a big drop in March, official figures showed Tuesday. The data pointed to a disappointing start to the second quarter.

The Economy Ministry said orders were down 0.4% compared with the previous month. That followed a painful 10.9% drop in March. Economists had expected an increase in April, but the ministry said the figure was influenced in part by fluctuations in bulk orders.

While domestic orders were up 1.6% in April, there was a drop in foreign demand — particularly in orders from elsewhere in the 20-nation eurozone, which were 2.7% lower.

The orders data followed the release on Monday of lackluster export figures for April. They showed exports increasing by 1.2% on the month after a 6% drop in March.

In late May, Germany’s national statistics office said that the economy shrank in the first three months of this year, marking the second consecutive quarter of contraction that is one definition of recession.

Germany’s gross domestic product, or GDP, declined by 0.3% in the period from January to March. That followed a drop of 0.5% in Europe’s biggest economy during the last quarter of 2022.

Inflation has eased but remained at a still-high 6.1% in May, while higher interest rates are also complicating hopes of an economic upturn.