U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 23 mins

Euro zone February industrial production much stronger than expected

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone industrial production jumped much more than expected in February, data showed on Tuesday, rebounding from a brief slump in January and adding to signs that economic recovery was gathering pace.

The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said industrial production in the 19 countries using the euro rose 1.1 percent month-on-month, the strongest monthly increase in 10 months, for a 1.6 percent year-on-year gain.

Economists polled by Reuters had on average expected a 0.4 percent monthly increase and a 0.7 percent annual rise.

The monthly gain was across the board in the production of energy, capital goods, durable and non-durable consumer goods.

While services are the biggest contributor to euro zone economic growth, industrial production is very important too because of its large indirect impact on other sectors.

The European Commission expects euro zone economic growth to accelerate gradually this year from 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first three months to 0.5 percent in the Oct-Dec period.

Other signs of stronger economic growth include improved economic sentiment, falling unemployment, less steep falls of consumer prices and banks' expectations of rising demand for credit in the coming months.


(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)