LONDON (AP) — Industrial output across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro fell in November for the third straight month, official figures showed Monday, raising fears that the recession in the region has continued into the last three months of 2012.
The 0.3 percent monthly decline reported by Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, was worse than expected and felt across the whole economy. The consensus in the markets was that output would increase a modest 0.1 percent during the month.
Even though the rate of decline had eased following the 2.3 percent and 1 percent drops reported in September and October, respectively, the figures are likely to cement market expectations that the recession in the eurozone has deepened. Year-on-year, industrial production in the eurozone was down by 3.7 percent.
"November's eurozone industrial production data provided further strong signs that the recession in the region as a whole intensified in the final quarter of last year," said Ben May, European economist at Capital Economics.
The prevailing view is that the eurozone economy shrank further in the fourth quarter of 2012, with most economists predicting a bigger decline than the 0.1 percent drop recorded for the third quarter. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.
According to Eurostat figures last month, seven countries in the 17-country bloc are in recession, including all five at the front-line of Europe's debt crisis as their governments enact tough austerity measures, such as cuts to spending, to get their public finances back into shape. In Italy and Spain, industrial production was down over 7 percent over the year to November.
Industrial output is particularly important in the eurozone, not least in Germany, Europe's largest economy, where output rose by a monthly rate of 0.1 percent.