The Economy Ministry said in a statement that industrial orders jumped by 3.9 percent in October from September, following a 2.4-percent drop the previous month. Analysts polled by Dow Jones had been penciling in a much more modest increase of 1.0 percent.
The increase -- the biggest since January 2011 -- was primarily due to a 6.7-percent rise in export orders, with orders from outside the eurozone soaring 8.5 percent, the ministry explained. Domestic orders in contrast edged up by 0.4 percent.
The rise in demand was seen across all sectors, with orders for semi-finished goods up 3.4 percent, orders for consumer goods rising 2.1 percent and capital goods orders advancing by 3.4 percent, the data showed. Taking September and October together, industrial orders slipped by 0.9 percent, the ministry calculated.
ING Belgium economist Carsten Brzeski said the stronger-than-expected data showed that "at least in Germany, green shoots seem to sprouting during the winter. If this trend continues, the current growth worries for the eurozone's biggest economy could turn out to just be a tempest in a teacup."
Natixis economist Constantin Wirschke similarly found the numbers "quite impressive," especially because the ministry noted that they had not been swelled by a disproportionate amount of big-ticket orders. But Wirschke said he remained cautious.
"Despite the jump in orders, we are still not overly optimistic for the fourth quarter as the economic headwinds of the euro crisis persist," he said.
Annalisa Piazza of Newedge Strategy agreed. "We don't expect manufacturing activity to show signs of sustainable improvement any time soon. Certainly today's data represent a good start for manufacturing production in the fourth quarter, but we are still sceptical on the sustainability of the recovery and we still see risks of negative fourth-quarter GDP (gross domestic product)," she said.