Germany\'s key mechanical engineering sector has slashed its forecast for output following a weaker-than-expected performance in the first half, the industry federation said Thursday. \"Following intensive discussions at board level, the VMDA has cut its output forecast for the current year from a plus of 2.0 percent to minus 1.0 percent,\" the federation said in a statement. \"Since the publication of our previous prognosis in September 2012, important background data have proved less dynamic than we expected. Our goal for this year is no longer achievable,\" said VMDA president Thomas Lindner. Sector-wide output has fallen by 3.4 percent in the first four months of the year, VDMA calculated. \"In order to achieve our planned increase of 2.0 percent for the whole year, we would need to see a very strong jump in the second half. Given the current level of orders, this can no longer be expected,\" it said. In the first five months, incoming orders in the sector were down by 1.0 percent, with domestic demand down 6.0 percent, while exports orders increased by 2.0 percent. Lindner insisted, however, that while the federation had lowered its expectations for the current year, \"we\'re still counting on growth in the remainder of the year\". Germany las long been a leader in supplying world markets with precision engineered equipment and parts for industrial processes and products, and this activity is an important part of its export prowess.