Euro zone factory output down


Output at euro zone factories fell for the third straight month in November and against expectations of a rise, but the end of 2012 probably marked the deepest point in the bloc's recession.

Industrial production in the 17 countries sharing the euro fell 0.3 per cent in November from the previous month, continuing its fall since the European summer, the EU's statistics office Eurostat said today.

Factory output, two-thirds of which is generated by Germany, France and Italy, was also down almost 4 per cent on an annual basis in the month.

The euro zone's debt crisis has driven a vicious cycle of falling business consumer morale and rising, record unemployment that has taken away demand for factory-made goods, ranging from cars to food.

While the euro zone avoided a break-up last year, helped by a European Central Bank announcement of a plan to buy government bonds, households are suffering the most from the crisis. Production of durable consumer goods such as televisions fell nearly 8 per cent in November compared to a year earlier.

But production of machinery to produce other goods, an indicator of future business, rose 0.7 per cent in November from October, after two months of losses.

If production of those capital goods continues to increase, that could support business surveys and the view of the ECB that the euro zone will recover from recession in 2013 and that the economy hit bottom in the fourth quarter of last year.

"The worst is behind us," David Mackie, an economist at JP Morgan said in a research note. "We believe that the euro area will exit recession in the first half of this year," he said.


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