BERLIN (AP) -- German industrial orders held steady in February after a big rise the previous month, buoyed by increasing foreign demand, government data showed Wednesday.
The unchanged reading from the Economy Ministry was better than economists' prediction that orders would fall by 0.5 percent on the month.
Orders surged by 5.1 percent on the month in January, the ministry said -- revising upward its initial report that they increased by 4.3 percent.
Germany's economy -- Europe's biggest -- is traditionally powered by exports and has benefited from an improving global outlook.
Domestic orders declined by 1.9 percent on the month in February but orders from abroad were up 1.8 percent.
On a year-on-year basis, total orders were up 24.4 percent in February and 17 percent in January -- underlining the progress made since Germany suffered a sharp recession at the height of the global economic crisis.
Germany's economy returned to modest growth in last year's second quarter, although it stagnated in the final three months of 2009.
Manufacturers have been reporting high new orders in March, noted Alexander Koch, an economist at UniCredit in Munich.
"As the assessment of inventory levels remains very low, the fresh supply in demand can be expected to translate quickly into further robust industrial activity in the coming months," Koch said.