Surprisingly big rise in industrial output in eurozone raises hopes recession may have ended

BRUSSELS – A larger-than-expected increase in industrial production across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro during March has raised hopes that the recession in the eurozone has eased or even ended.

Official figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, show eurozone industrial output rose a monthly 1 per cent in March, double the rate expected in the markets and the biggest gain since July 2011.

As a result, industrial production during the first quarter was up a quarterly 0.2 per cent. This will provide a boon to wider eurozone economic figures due Wednesday. The first estimate of first-quarter eurozone economic output is still expected to show a drop — albeit lower than the previous quarter’s 0.6 per cent.

Even so, most economists think any respite from recession will likely be short-lived.