BRUSSELS - Production at factories in the euro zone dropped in July for a second consecutive month and by more than expected, in what could herald a possible slowdown of the bloc's economy in the third quarter, official data released on Wednesday showed.
The European Union statistics agency Eurostat said industry output in the 19-country currency bloc fell in July by 0.8 percent during the month and by 0.1 percent year-on-year.
The numbers are a negative surprise after economists polled by Reuters had forecast a smaller 0.5 percent drop month-on-month and a 1.0 percent rise from a year earlier.
The fall follows an equal drop by 0.8 percent in June on the month, a figure Eurostat revised down on Wednesday after its previous estimate of a 0.7 percent fall.
The year-on-year data for June was also revised down to a 2.3 percent rise from 2.5 percent.
Although output data tend to be very volatile, industry's marked slowdown in the first month of the third quarter could be a sign of weaker economic growth.
Eurostat will release on its preliminary flash estimate of euro zone's growth in the third quarter on October 30.
The monthly output fall was mostly caused by a 1.9 percent drop in the production of durable consumer goods, such as cars or fridges, which could show managers' prediction of lower consumer appetite for larger spending.
The output of non-durable consumer goods, such as clothing, also fell more than the overall reading, by 1.3 percent on the month.
However, in a positive sign for future investment, the output of capital goods, such as machinery, went up by 0.7 percent on the month.