Eurozone May Industrial Production Surprises to the Upside

The European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat, reported this morning that industrial production among the 17 members of the Eurozone rose 0.6% month-over-month in May. Compared with May 2011, industrial production fell by -2.8%. Among all 27 countries in the EU, industrial production grew by 0.5% month-over-month and fell by -2.3% year-over-year in May.

A survey of economists by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a Eurozone month-over-month decline of -0.2% and a year-over-year drop of -3.7% for May.

Among Eurozone members, the only industry to post a lower month-over-month change was energy production, down -2.3% in May. Non-durable consumer goods production rose 1.7% in the Eurozone, and capital goods production rose 0.9%.

Year-over-year Eurozone production showed a decline in all categories, with durable consumer goods production down the most at -6.4%.

German production was up 1% month-over-month, but down -0.2% year-over-year. Spain showed a month-over-month increase of 0.6%, but a drop of -6.1% year-over-year. Production in Greece rose 0.3% month-over-month, but fell-2.8% year-over-year. In Italy, production was up 0.8% month-over-month and down -6.9% year over year.

The largest monthly gain was recorded in Portugal, up 4.1%, and the largest annual gain totaled 12.8% in Norway, likely a reflection of higher crude oil prices.

The Eurostat data is kind of a “the glass is half full, the glass is half empty” report. Among Eurozone members the comparisons with industrial production a year ago have been consistently negative with the exception of capitals good production, which turned negative in April and stayed negative in May.

While the month of May showed some unexpected improvement, the annual decline has been growing steadily. If this is the road to recovery in Europe, it is paved with obstacles.

The Eurostat report is available here.

Paul Ausick