Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- European industrial orders rebounded in December, adding to indications the region’s economy is stabilizing.
Orders in the 17-nation euro region rose 1.9 percent from November, when they dropped 1.1 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Economists had forecast an increase of 0.5 percent, the median of 16 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey showed.
The region’s economy may struggle to gather strength as governments from Ireland to Spain step up spending cuts to fight the sovereign-debt crisis and unemployment remains at the highest in almost 14 years. European services and manufacturing output unexpectedly shrank in February, a separate report today showed.
The euro-area economy shrank in the fourth quarter for the first time in 2 1/2 years as the region’s debt crisis undermined confidence and forced countries to toughen austerity measures. Cooling global growth and rising unemployment may yet tip the economy into recession, which is commonly defined as two consecutive quarterly contractions.
Euro-area December industrial orders for capital goods rose 4.2 percent from November, when they fell 1.8 percent, today’s report showed. Orders for durable consumer goods decreased 2.7 percent, while those for intermediate goods increased 1.5 percent. Total orders excluding heavy transport equipment such as ships and trains gained 2.5 percent from the previous month.
Overall orders declined 1.7 percent in December from a year earlier after a 2.5 percent drop in November, the data showed.
Professional forecasters surveyed by the European Central Bank this month predicted the euro-area economy will contract this year and grow less than previously projected in 2013. The ECB will publish new forecasts in March.
--With assistance from Kristian Siedenburg in Vienna. Editors: Simone Meier, Jones Hayden
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