RTTNews - Industrial production in the euro area fell at its fastest pace on record in the face of sluggish demand, official data showed Friday.

Factory output dropped 21.6% year-on-year in April after falling a revised 19.3% in March, the Eurostat said. Meanwhile, economists had forecast a decline of 19.8%. On a monthly basis, production was down 1.9% following a fall of 1.4% in the previous month.

Since the global economic downturn intensified in the second half of 2008, companies in Europe have cut their production, staff and investment to survive in the crisis.

Compared to the previous year, production of non-durable consumer goods fell 6.5% and that of energy decreased 12.3%. Durable consumer goods production declined 22.4% and production of capital goods dropped 26.7%. Intermediate goods output fell 27.1%.

In the EU27, industrial output dropped 0.9% month-on-month and 19.4% annually. Production fell in all member states for which data were available. The largest decreases were registered in Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Italy, while Poland, Romania, Portugal, Greece and the U.K. recorded smallest declines.

The record fall in Eurozone industrial output contrasts with the situation in other economies, which are showing signs that the worst of the recession is over. Earlier in the day, official data showed that China's industrial output rose more than expected in May. A revised report from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed that output climbed 5.9% month-on-month in April.

The European Central Bank held its key interest rate unchanged at a record low of 1% on June 4 and decided to purchase covered bonds worth EUR 60 billion to boost economic activities. Thursday, the bank said in its monthly report that the 16-nation currency bloc will not recover until mid-2010.

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