Eurozone industrial output accelerates

Industrial output excluding energy accelerated in the eurozone in January as manufacturing picked up in a number of core bloc members.

Production in the 17 countries using the euro rose by 0.3 per cent compared with December, despite a 3.1 per cent fall in energy production, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat said.

On an annual basis, the increase was 6.6 per cent, marginally greater than the expected 6.4 per cent.

But conditions in peripheral nations such as in Portugal and Ireland declined, with Portugal’s manufacturing falling by 4.2 per cent.

Howard Archer, chief economist at Global Insight, described the growth as “solid if unspectacular”.

“Eurozone industrial production was somewhat distorted over December 2010 and January 2011 by severe weather in December in some countries hitting manufacturing output but boosting energy output,” he said.

“Looking through these distortions, the underlying performance of the eurozone manufacturing sector clearly remains robust at the moment.”

Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said he expected the rate of growth “to improve markedly” in February but warned that global events such as the tsunami in Japan would affect global progress.

December’s figures were revised up significantly to show a gain of 0.3 per cent month-on-month from a previous 0.1 per cent fall and to an annual rise of 8.8 per cent from eight per cent.

The revision suggested the cold snap had not hampered activity as much as initially thought.

Of ten eurozone countries for which data was available, production rose in Estonia, France, Germany, Malta, Slovakia and Spain and fell in Finland, Ireland, Italy and Portugal.