Workers preparing Mercedes cars for unloading from a freight train before they were loaded onto ships (Photo by David Hecker/Getty Images)
Rising domestic and export demand gave Germany's key mechanical engineering sector a boost in January, the VDMA industry federation said on Tuesday.
The manufacture of machine tools is an important part of Germany's industrial and export performance.
In January, overall incoming orders were up by 6.0 percent compared with the same month a year earlier, VDMA said in a statement, with export orders climbing by 7.0 percent and domestic orders up by 2.0 percent.
Taking a three-month comparison to iron out short-term fluctuations, overall orders were up by 2.0 percent in the period from November to December, with foreign orders expanding by 5.0 percent while domestic orders slipped by 3.0 percent, VDMA calculated.
"The green shoots of recovery in the mechanical engineering sector in 2014 are still very delicate," said VDMA's chief economist Ralph Wiechers.
Among the positive factors were the sharp improvement in the business climate in the euro area and strong demand from non-eurozone countries.
But bad news from a number of developing countries -- and now the crisis in Ukraine -- was giving rise to some uncertainty, Wiechers warned.
"A political solution of the conflict is more than desirable, not least for the sake of a sustained recovery in the global economy," the expert said.