BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone industrial production plunged by more than expected in May, depressed mostly by a steep fall in energy output, the European Union statistics office said on Wednesday, suggesting the bloc's economy lost steam after strong output data in April.
Eurostat said industrial production in the 19-member single currency bloc in May dropped 1.2 percent on a monthly basis, and rose 0.5 percent year-on-year.
Both figures are below the average forecast in a Reuters poll of economists who predicted a 0.8 percent fall month on month and a 1.4 percent rise of output on a yearly basis.
The fall in May nearly erased the increase in output recorded in April when production increased 1.4 percent monthly and 2.2 percent year-on-year.
Both April figures were revised upward from previous estimates of a monthly rise of 1.1 percent and a yearly increase of 2.0 percent.
Euro zone May monthly output decreased in all sectors, and recorded its sharpest fall for energy which was 4.3 percent down, the steepest drop this year, after two consecutive months of rising energy output.
Output of capital goods, such as machinery, dropped 2.3 percent, and of durable consumer goods, such as fridges and cars, decreased 1.4 percent.
Production of intermediate goods was 0.4 percent lower in May than in April, while non-durable consumer goods, such as clothes or food, were the least affected by the overall fall, recording a slight drop of 0.1 percent month-on-month.
The drop in euro zone production was expected after the plunge of Germany's production in May. The largest euro zone economy recorded a 1.3 percent drop of its industrial output month-on-month, the worst in 2016.
In France monthly production went down 0.5 percent, and dropped 0.6 percent in Italy.
For details of Eurostat data click on:
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)