Euro zone industrial production fell in September from August, the EU's statistics office said on Monday, supporting expectations of a sharp contraction of industry towards the end of this year and a probable economic recession in Europe.
Output at factories in the 17 nations sharing the single currency was down 2.0 percent for the month, the European Union's Eurostat statistics agency said, compared to a 2.2 monthly decline forecast by a Reuters poll of economists.
A stronger-than-expected showing in August, where industrial output expanded 1.4 percent, showed the euro zone economy providing some resilience to cooling economies in Asia and the United States. But declining orders in Europe have fed through to factories, and European manufacturers are lowering production, hurt by state spending cuts and the sovereign debt crisis that is weakening business confidence.
Production in Germany and France, the euro zone's biggest economies, fell 2.9 percent and 1.9 percent respectively in September compared to August, Eurostat said.
Heavily indebted Italy, which looms large over Greece as the biggest concern to the euro zone's survival, saw industrial output tumble 4.8 percent in September.
Compared to a year ago, industrial production rose 2.2 percent in September in the euro zone, below expectations of a 3.3 percent rise.
For the 27-nation EU, output fell 1.3 percent on a monthly basis, and also rose 2.2 percent on an annual basis.
(Reporting By Robin Emmott; editing by Rex Merrifield)