German factory orders unexpectedly fell in October, suggesting that Europe’s largest economy is still struggling to fend off recession, preliminary figures from the Federal Statistical Office showed on Thursday.

Factory orders fell by 0.4 per cent in October month-on-month, following a 1.5 per cent increase in September, which was revised from the initially reported 1.3 per cent gain. Economists had expected a 0.4 per cent gain.

Compared to a year earlier, orders were down by 5.5 per cent in October, highlighting the damage that the ongoing global trade disputes have caused to German industry.

The report shows that German factories still need to come out of a downturn that has already lasted for more than a year.

Meanwhile, eurozone private sector growth remained at the lowest ebb in six-and-a-half years in November, foreshadowing only modest expansion for the fourth quarter, final survey data from IHS Markit showed on Wednesday.

The final eurozone composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a closely-watched gauge of economic health, was unchanged last month from October’s reading of 50.6, and slightly above the 50 threshold that separates expansion from contraction. Despite mildly positive signs in the survey, the picture is likely to disappoint European Central Bank policymakers, who in September relaunched a €2.6 trillion asset-purchase programme with the hope of stimulating growth.

Earlier in the week, the eurozone manufacturing PMI showed that factory activity shrank for a 10th consecutive month in November. At 47.4, it remained well-entrenched in contraction territory.

Finally, in the UK, the services sector contracted in November to register three straight months without growth for the main driver of the economy, as uncertainty over Brexit and an imminent national election weighed in. The final reading of the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Services PMI fell to 49.3 in November from 50.0 in the previous month.

The November reading was revised higher from a preliminary 48.6.

But the index has still not exceeded the 50 threshold that signifies growth since August – the longest such streaks since 2009.

“Service providers have attributed the recent soft patch to delayed decision-making on new projects until greater clarity emerges in relation to the domestic political landscape,” IHS Markit economist Tim Moore said.

This report was compiled by Bank of Valletta for general information purposes only.