BUSINESS

Eurozone output drops in December because of energy, capital goods

Falling production of energy and capital goods curbed eurozone industrial production more than expected in December, data from the European Union's Statistics Office showed on Wednesday, underlining the fragility of the bloc's economic recovery.

Industrial output in 17 countries sharing the euro in December 2013 fell 0.7 percent on the month, after a downwardly revised 1.6 percent rise in November, Eurostat said. Analysts polled by Reuters expected only a 0.3 percent fall in December.

The decrease was driven mainly by a 2.1 percent fall in output of energy and capital goods, with production of non-durable consumer goods down 0.1 percent against November.

Compared with the same period of last year, industrial production rose 0.5 percent in December after a downwardly revised 2.8 percent rise in November. But analysts had expected a 1.8 percent expansion year-on-year.

The data shows the fragility of the recovery in the 9.5 trillion euro economy, which economists expect to have expanded 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the last three months of 2013, up from 0.1 percent in the third quarter.

Eurostat will publish its first estimate of eurozone GDP for the fourth quarter on Friday.

Only three out of 17 countries sharing the euro saw industrial production rising in December, led by a 2.7 percent growth on the month in Slovenia and a 2.6 percent jump in Greece.

Portugal, which is expected to exit from an international bailout later this year, saw production rising 0.7 percent compared to November.

Industrial production in Europe's strongest economy Germany fell 0.7 percent on the month, while second largest France was down 0.3 percent and the third biggest Italy fell 0.9 percent month on month.

All three countries saw industrial production rising month on month in November.

[Reuters]

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