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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone industrial output increased by much more than expected in November as firms sharply stepped up the production of non-durable consumer goods, such as clothing or foodstuff, a sign of better growth in the last quarter of 2016.
The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said on Thursday industrial production in the 19-country single currency bloc rose in November by 1.5 percent during the month, and by 3.2 percent year-on-year.
Both figures were much higher than market expectations. A Reuters poll of economists had forecast an average monthly rise of 0.5 percent and a 1.6 percent increase year-on-year.
Eurostat also revised upwards its earlier estimates for October to a 0.1 percent rise on the month instead of the 0.1 percent decline previously estimated and to a 0.8 percent increase year-on-year, up from an initial 0.6 percent.
The monthly output rise in November was mostly due to a 2.9 percent increase in the production of non-durable consumer goods, in a sign of companies' improved expectations for consumption ahead of the Christmas shopping.
Production grew markedly on the month also for intermediate goods (1.6 percent) and energy (1.2 percent), while it rose only slightly for capital goods, like machineries, a sign of only limited appetite for long-term investment.
Output of durable goods, such as cars or refrigerators, was the only component of the indicator to record a drop, by 0.1 percent on the month, confirming firms' cautious approach.
Gross domestic product in the euro zone grew a modest 0.3 percent in second and third quarter of last year, after a 0.5 percent rise in the first quarter. Economists are pointing to a possible acceleration of GDP growth in the last quarter of the year.
The German economy grew by 0.5 percent quarter-on-quarter in the Oct-Dec period, separate data showed on Thursday.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop