Eurozone Industrial Output Slumps in May

Steepest monthly decline since Dec. 1992

Factories and refineries in the 15 nations sharing the euro ratcheted down production in May at the fastest rate in nearly 16 years amid growing economic headwinds, according to official EU data on July 14. The European Union's Eurostat data agency said industrial output in the eurozone fell 1.9% in May from April -- the steepest monthly decline since December 1992.

The weaker May showing was driven by a fall in the production of durable consumer goods such as cars and appliances and non-durable consumer goods such as cosmetics, food and fuel.

Despite the sharp pull-back, production was stronger than the 2.3% slump economists had forecast. "While industrial production can be highly volatile ..., the extent of the decline in May adds to the mounting fears that the eurozone economy is now weakening markedly," economist Howard Archer at consultants Global Insight said.

Over 12 months, industrial output fell 0.6%, Eurostat said, which was worse than the 0.4% increase that economists had expected. The figures, which were adjusted for seasonal variations, marked a sharp pull-back from April, when output rose 1% over one month and jumped 4% over one year.

Geographically, the weakness was broad-based including in the biggest eurozone economies Germany, France and Italy.

In the 27-nation EU as a whole, industrial output fell 1.4% over one month in May and 0.6% over one year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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