Domestic demand drove a stronger than expected 0.6% rise in German industrial orders in February, Economy Ministry data showed today.

This marked the fourth consecutive monthly gain and underscored the pickup in Germany's mighty industry.

The increase in seasonally-adjusted orders beat the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of 32 economists for a rise of 0.1%. But the gain in January orders was revised downwards to 0.1% from an originally reported 1.2%.

Today's figures showed that domestic orders were up 1.2%, driven by demand for intermediate and capital goods, while contracts from abroad inched up 0.2%. 

Germany's export-oriented industry struggled to gain traction last year against the backdrop of a weak global economy. But it picked up towards the end of 2013 and looks set to perform better this year.

That is in line with the overall performance of the German economy, Europe's largest, which powered through the early years of the euro zone crisis but weakened towards the end of 2012 and start of 2013.

After growth of just 0.4% last year, economists expect expansion of around 1.8% in 2014, reflecting a pickup worldwide and particularly in the euro zone, emerging from its debt crisis.

The orders data today showed a 12.2% surge in contracts from the euro zone for capital goods after a 18.1% drop in January. Overall orders from the euro zone were up 5.9%, contrasting with a 3.1% drop in orders from countries beyond the currency bloc.