BERLIN (AP) — German factory orders were down 4% in September compared with the previous month, official figures showed Friday, underlining expectations that Europe’s biggest economy is heading into recession.

The decline was led by a decline in foreign orders, which dropped 7%. Orders from inside Germany were up 0.5%, the Economy Ministry said.

It added that a rise in demand that set in after the worst of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be over, and orders are now back to a pre-pandemic level. They were down 10.8% compared with a year earlier, the ministry said.

Official data last week showed the economy posting unexpected growth in the third quarter, thanks in large part to consumer spending.

But inflation has increased to more than 10% as energy prices remain high and Germany is still widely expected to see a winter recession. Two consecutive quarters of negative growth is one technical definition of recession. The Economy Ministry said that “a weak fourth quarter” appears likely after the positive surprise of the third quarter.