Exports by Europe's biggest economy picked up unexpectedly in February, with a second consecutive monthly rise. Rising import figures also provide a glimmer of hope for depressed eurozone members.
German exports rose by 1.6 percent month-on-month in February, hitting a total of 91.3 billion euros ($119 billion), according to data released by the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) on Tuesday.
The second consecutive monthly rise in goods and services exported by Germany has driven the overall 2012 figure to 177.3 billion euros so far, 14.7 million euros more than in the first two months of 2011.
Germany's traditionally export-heavy economy is also being helped by strong domestic demand, resulting in rising import figures too.
Destatis said that goods and services worth 76.5 billion euros came into Germany in February - an increase of 6.1 percent over the same month in 2011.
The Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) also predicts an increase of roughly six percent in total annual exports for 2012.
"German exports are set to reach an all-time high this year," BGA President Anton Börner said on Tuesday.
February imports from European Union members grew 6.6 percent year-on-year to 48.7 billion euros, with imports from the debt-stricken eurozone increasing 5.5 percent to 35.4 billion euros.
Countries outside the European Union drove the rising German figures, with the volume of non-EU exports rising by 13.4 percent.
Rather than an increase in exports, analysts had previously forecast a drop of 0.4 percent in a poll carried out by Reuters news agency.
Christian Schulz, analyst with Berenberg Bank, told Reuters that the figures were "surprisingly positive" given the harsh winter weather in February which impacted the economy through higher costs for energy. It was "even better" that exports as well as imports grew, he said."
This is an ideal situation as it gives struggling eurozone members a chance to grow out of their problems, while Germany remains competitive on a global scale," Schulz said.
However, the trade figures were "in contrast" to the downward trend in the economy, ING Bank analyst Carsten Brzeski told Reuters, saying the economy had been "flirting with a technical recession" in recent weeks.
"The recent upswing in housing construction, as well as latest industrial and trade data, however, might help the economy to leave the danger zone," Brzeski said.
uhe/msh (AP, Reuters, dpa)