Industrial output notches up ‘soft’ decline in March

The plunge in recession-wracked Spain's industrial production eased in March to a 0.6 percent year-on-year decline, official data showed on Thursday.

Industrial output notches up 'soft' decline in March
The March fall in Spain's industrial output was driven by weakening production of durable consumer goods. File photo: Ben Husmann

The seasonally-corrected figure from the National Statistics Institute followed a 6.9 percent fall recorded for February in the eurozone's fourth biggest economy.

It was the softest decline since August 2011, just before the latest recession started.

Like February's figure, the March fall was driven by weakening production of durable consumer goods, the institute said.

Production in the capital goods and energy sectors strengthened by 3.3 percent however.

Industrial production had fallen by 4.9 percent in January, 7.1 percent in December and 7.0 percent in November.

In its efforts to strengthen the public finances Spain's conservative government has imposed tough economic reforms that have curbed consumption.

It forecasts the economy will contract by 1.3 percent this year.

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Spanish factories raise output in March

Spain's factories are gently lifting production in response to a hesitant, jobs-starved recovery from years of recession, official data showed on Thursday.

Spanish factories and utilities raised output at an annual rate of 0.6 percent in March, after smoothing out seasonal blips, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said.

It was the fifth straight month of rising industrial output in the Spanish economy, which emerged in mid-2013 from five years of stop-start recession.

Despite reporting slow economic growth, Spain remains scarred by a 2008 property crash, which destroyed millions of jobs. In the first quarter of this year, the unemployment rate edged up to nearly 26 percent.

Spanish industry appears to be reacting to the resulting weakness in the consumer sector, latest data showed, with output of consumer goods easing 0.2 percent.

A breakdown showed production of durable consumer goods such as cars or refrigerators slumped by 4.8 percent while output of non-durable consumer goods such as paper or food edged up by 0.8 percent.

More hopefully, output of business equipment such as machinery climbed 3.0 percent and intermediate goods used in manufacturing, such as textiles or chemicals, rose by 1.7 percent. Utilities lowered energy output by 2.5 percent.

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