BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone industrial output increased less than expected in January as firms' higher investment in machinery was partially offset by a drop in the production of consumer goods, estimates from the European Union statistics office showed on Tuesday.
Eurostat said industrial production in the 19-country single currency bloc rose in January by 0.9 percent compared to the previous month, and by 0.6 percent year-on-year.
Both figures were lower than market expectations. A Reuters poll of economists had forecast an average monthly rise of 1.3 percent and a 0.9 percent increase year-on-year.
The lower-than-expected January figures were partly counterbalanced by upwardly revised data for December when industrial production fell by 1.2 percent on the month, less than the 1.6 percent drop initially estimated by Eurostat.
On a yearly basis output went up by 2.5 percent in December, more than the 2.0 rise previously estimated.
The monthly output rise in January was mostly due to a surge in production of capital goods, like machinery, which went up by 2.8 percent, fully offsetting an equal drop in the previous month, in a sign of firms' improved prospects of future sales.
Energy output also rose by 1.9 percent on the month.
But production of durable and non-durable consumer goods decreased. Output of durable goods, such as cars or refrigerators, went down by 0.4 percent in January, after a 3 percent surge in December.
Production of non-durable consumer goods was down by 0.7 percent, compounding a 0.2 percent December fall.
Output of intermediate goods went also down by 0.4 percent.
At national level, a 3.3 percent surge in the monthly output of Germany, the bloc's largest economy, was partly offset by production falls in France (-0.3 percent) and Italy (-2.3 percent), respectively the second and third biggest economies in the euro zone.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek